Those people suffering from complete paralysis, meaning that they’re incapable of moving or controlling their paralyzed muscles at all, have a new reason to hope. Three men suffering from such a form of paralysis were able to walk again thanks to a spinal cord implant that stimulates the leg and trunk muscles, according to WebMD.com.
There’s a new technology responsible for the achievement, and we can already be eager to hear about new applications in the near future. CNN explains how the achievement was possible. 16-electrode devices were used in the patients’ spines, and they received electrical currents from pacemakers placed under the skin. A tablet computer is used to control the pacemakers.
Grégoire Courtine, one of those leading the study and who’s a member of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, declared as quoted by WebMD.com:
For the first time, we have not only immediate effect — though training is still important — but also individuals with no sensation, no movement whatsoever, have been able to regain full standing and walking independently of the laboratory.
Michel Roccati from Italy is one of the three men who benefitted from the implant. He became paralyzed after going through a motorcycle accident back in 2017. As for now, five years later, he can walk again using a walker.
Dr. Nicholas Theodore, the director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgical Spine Center and a man who wasn’t involved in the research, stated as quoted by CNN:
I think [this research] should be a call for all of us to understand that there is hope for the treatment of these patients,
I think the hope right now is going to be through an engineering solution and less so than cellular reparative strategy.
The new research was published in Nature Medicine.