Paralysed men’s legs are revived by pioneering implant

A recent scientific development has meant that spinal cords can be reawakened by electrical implants, reviving the flow of information between brain and limbs. As a result, those who were completely paralysed can now move their legs and toes and lift up to 100 kilograms with their legs – a feat which previously seemed impossible.

The procedure involved an array of electrodes being implanted in the lumbrosacral region of the spinal cord, this is the main communication pathway between the brain and the lower limbs. Once the cord has been ‘reawakened’, it can register the intent to move and convert this at motor neurone level; in other words into a movement.

There are still limitations, such as different algorithms needed for the left and right legs. As a result only one leg can be moved at a time. An addition improvement for the men is that to varying degrees they have recovered bladder, bowel and sexual function. Continued tests on an increased number of candidates will be going ahead.

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