Three Paraplegics Walk Again After Receiving Implant: “it’s almost a normal life”

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Three paralyzed people can walk again thanks to the development of new medical technology by Swiss Researchers.

On Monday, the Nature Medicine Journal published the research. According to the journal, in its ongoing clinical trial testing the use of electrical spinal implants, three individuals who had “complete sensorimotor paralysis” saw immediate improvement and were eventually able to “stand, walk, cycle, swim and control trunk movements.”

Five years ago, Michel Roccati severed his spine in a motorcycle accident. He told BBC that he was left with no feeling in his legs. Usually, his level of injury rendered him permanently unable to walk. However, that is no longer the case. Roccati received the electrical implant at the base of his spine.

When the spine is damaged, the nerves that carry brain messages to the legs cannot create a strong enough signal for the legs to move. With a signal boost from the implant, the person can move again.

All participants were between 29 and 41 and had no movement or sensation in the legs, reported STAT news. They also had “at least 6 centimeters of healthy spinal cord below their injury,” the report said.

Although patients immediately responded to the implant, support for their body weight was required for the first few days. Gradually the patients were able to walk with a support aid, said Grégoire Courtine, co-senior author of the research paper and a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, to the Scientific American.

He could do a range of activities such as canoeing or standing up at the bar to have a drink. Roccati told BBC, “it’s almost a normal life.”

According to BBC, the technology is too complex for everyday use, but it is a positive step forward.



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