Stem Cell Spinal Cord Injury Exoskeleton & Virtual Reality Study (SciExVR)

SciExVR is an innovative approach seeking to help patients with spinal cord injuries. The treatment consists of an injection of stem cells around the area of injury followed by stem cell treatment of the brain. Patients will be put through rehabilitation using an exoskeleton and virtual reality (VR) system in order to physically and mentally practice using limbs that had been formerly unusable.

MD Stem Cells

SciExVR is for patients with spinal cord injuries at the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral level with resultant paraplegia (partial or complete) sensory or autonomic dysfunction (bowel, bladder, sexual).

At this time, cervical injuries and quadriplegia/tetraplegia are not eligible. The treatment consists of bone marrow-derived stem cells provided in paired, paraspinal injections at, above, and below the injury performed under radiologic guidance by our board-certified, fellowship-trained spinal surgeon. This is followed by intravenous and intranasal stem cells for additional treatment of the brain, upper motor, and sensory neurons.

Our initial patient, at the one-month postop visit, showed improvement of 1 to 2 sensory levels on ASIA assessment and improvement in sphincter tone. At 2 months, they reported internal sensory sensation of bowel activity and proprioception of knee and quadriceps movement. Improvement in certain mobility exercise was noted. Close to 3 months, the patient's stamina was reported improved with more exercise on the exoskeletal device noted and reduction in the assistance percent on the device.

The procedure is performed as an outpatient at the ParkCreek Surgery Center under general or MAC anesthesia by board-certified anesthesiologists. Bone marrow aspiration is painless and performed by our board-certified orthopedic surgeon.

A 3-night stay is required in the area to allow a preop day, procedure day, and postop visit. Patients may return home the postop day, and flying is perfectly fine. Cost is USD $19,600.00. Please see NCT 03225626.

In about 50% of thoracic cord injury patients, sensory information may register in the brain on fMRI even though there is no conscious sensation on the part of the patient. SciExVR may potentially be capable of stimulating or enhancing that remaining neuronal function. Click the replay sign on the video to hear more.