New Spinal Cord Implant Lets Paralyzed Man's Legs Move Again! [VIDEO]
Apr 09, 2014 11:19
We are getting real close to crossing paralysis off the list of stuff we can't fix. A new technique uses electrical implants in the spines of paralyzed patients to help them move their legs again. And it is working!
The research is part of a study by scientists at the University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center. Four paralyzed below the waist men were fitted with an array of electrodes in the lumbosacral region of the spinal cord and it worked.
Four of them can move their legs and toes now, and some can even lift up to 100 kilograms with their legs. The research is published in Brain. New Scientist explains how it works:
[T]he implant restores what in healthy people would be the resting potential of the spinal cord, the baseline electrical activity that keeps the cord alert, but which wanes through lack of use in people who are paralysed... Once this background electrical impetus is restored artificially, the cord reawakens and can register the brain's "intent" to move from the brain and convert this into fine movement at the motor neuron level. And by modulating the voltage for each individual and for each task, algorithms that optimise delivery of electrical activity for specific movement can be worked out and applied at will by the patients.
You can watch the video below to see the patients' progress. The next step is to get them to walk once more. The researchers hope to increase the number of electrodes from 16 to 27 to give patients more control and help them walk again.
Patients have also reported regained recovered bladder, bowel and sexual satisfaction. [Brain via New Scientist]
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