Paralyzed Man Can Walk After Groundbreaking Spinal Implant

A paralyzed man can walk again thanks to a newly developed spinal cord implant.

The technology, called epidural electrical stimulation, revives the ability to translate neural messages from the brain to the spine bridging the gaps in damaged spines, according to research published in the journal Nature.

David M’zee, one of the three trial patients, is able to walk about a half-mile with his device turned on, and about eight steps when it’s off.

Two other paraplegics who received the implant are also able to move their legs, to varying degrees, and their prognosis is promising.

In a video published by the Swiss research institute École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, lead researcher Grégoire Courtine says his team studied technology that “allows us to stimulate the spinal cord as the brain would naturally.”

“All the patients could walk using body weight support within one week. I knew immediately that we were on the right path,” said Jocelyne Bloch, CHUV Neurosurgeon.

In addition to helping paralyzed people regain their ability to move, the device is also regenerating damaged nerve cells in the spine

This is a vast improvement on previous rehabilitation methods that have been tried and the system enabled patients to train outside on different terrains for longer periods of time.

 

 

Drawing: “Skeleton Study” by Brittany Schall is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0