​What Will It Take to Push Electrical Stimulation Therapies Out of Academia and Into Clinic?

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on April 01, 2021 # Reeve Summit

What Will It Take to Push Electrical Stimulation Therapies Out of Academia and Into Clinic?

Reeve Summit 2021 Workshop April 27


Electrical stimulation has long been seen as an advance with great hope for spinal cord injury recovery. That promise seems clearer than ever, as more of these therapies make their way through clinical trials. Less clear is the road from research potential to helping people with paralysis live better lives. What are the roadblocks to more universal access to potentially game-changing stimulation-based therapeutics?

Explore the state of the field with a leading commercial player in neurostimulatory therapeutics in a workshop at the Reeve Summit 2021. Dave Marver, CEO of ONWARD (formerly GTX Medical), will discuss his company’s partnership with the Reeve Foundation and its plans to drive breakthrough technologies out of academia and into clinics, where they can meaningfully benefit quality of life.

Turning Decades of Research on Electrical Stimulation into Therapies People Need

ONWARD has developed ARC Therapy, which is designed to deliver targeted, programmed stimulation of the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions in people with spinal cord injury, ultimately improving their quality of life. Stimulation is provided either with a transcutaneous system (ARCEX) or an implantable device (ARCIM.) Both of these core technologies have received FDA Breakthrough Device designation, which aims to give patients and health care providers timely access to needed medical devices by speeding up their development, assessment, and review.

ARC Therapy builds on two decades of research on neuromodulation, some of it supported by the Reeve Foundation. The Foundation invested in ONWARD in 2019 and is a shareholder.

Beyond Walking: Benefits of Electrical Stimulation to Bladder, Bowel, Sexual Function Explored

Much attention in the field of stimulation therapy focuses on restoring mobility, particularly the ability to walk. But that’s only one end of the therapeutic spectrum. Activities consistently ranked by people living with paralysis as highly important to their quality of life can also be targeted. Regaining bowel and bladder control and sexual function top the list. Grip ability and lifting one’s arm are other examples of so-called “incremental” benefits that can make independent living viable.

“All of these impacts of SCI affect activities of daily life in profound ways and require expensive assistance and caregiver support.”

~ Dave Marver, in a Medgadget interview in February 2021.

They may not be as attention-grabbing as a long-paralyzed man walking again, but these seemingly mundane improvements can make real differences in real people’s lives.

Up-LIFT Clinical Trial Seeks to Restore Hand, Arm Function Noninvasively with Electrical Stimulation

In January, ONWARD started enrollment in the Up-LIFT Study. This clinical trial will evaluate ONWARD’s ARCEX system in restoring hand and arm function in people with SCI. The trial aims to enroll 65 subjects at up to 15 sites in the United States, Canada, UK, and Europe. It’s the largest-scale study of its kind.

Second Annual Reeve Summit April 27-29 Features 40+ Virtual Sessions on Paralysis Topics

The second annual Reeve Summit: Where Care, Cure and Community Connect takes place April 27-29, 2021. “Innovation in Motion: Driving Breakthrough Therapies out of the Research Lab and into the Clinic” (Apr. 27, 2-3 pm EDT) is one of more than 40 virtual sessions. The Summit will explore topics relevant to the paralysis community, including advocacy, caregiving, employment, research, and health and wellness. Participants around the globe will have a chance to hear from experts, ask questions, and share their own experiences of living with paralysis.


The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.