A remarkable medical procedure is being undertaken for former Steinbach Piston Braden Pettinger in Thailand.
Braden was paralyzed two years ago during a game with Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. As a result, he can move his arms around but has been unable to move his legs.
Braden's uncle Larry Pettinger gives us the update on the fascinating procedure the family's hoping will see some changes in his condition. "Braden and his Dad, Rick, traveled to Bangkok, Thailand. The procedure was done last Monday, whenever Monday was in Thailand. He had an epidural implant. This is a tiny little computer chip with wires, and whatever on it, that the doctors in Thailand have implanted in his spinal cord. It basically amplifies any impulses, then sends them out to his limbs in a stronger form."
Pettinger says a room in the hospital is dedicated to Braden and his father…like an apartment where they'll stay for a month. During that time the vital procedure following the implanting of the chip will take place and is called "mapping". Technicians fine-tune impulses sent by the chip toward the various muscles. Once the procedure is well underway, Braden will have a remote control to operate and change impulse strength. Pettinger says if Braden feels he needs stronger impulses in a certain direction, he can adjust the amplification strength to move that muscle.
He adds the results will be limited. Pettinger explains bowel control and bladder control are being targeted, and anything beyond that would be a bonus.