Spinal Cord Implants Bring New Hope To Paralysed Patients
By Sofy Robertson
A paralysed man has partially regained the ability to walk with the help of spinal cord implants.
David M’Zee lost the use of his legs in a sporting accident but thanks to new spinal cord implant technology, M’Zee has regained partial use of his legs.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland have reported that M’Zee can walk more than half a mile, hands free, with the implants turned on.
M’Zee is not the only success story from the study. Two other patients were given similar implants and along with physical therapy, achieved similar results.
Lead neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine clarified that the implants aren’t working the patients’ legs for them.
“It really works as an amplifier. It’s not that we’re taking over control of the leg. The patients have to do it.” (Huffington Post)
The implants work by using targeted electrical stimulation to specific parts of the leg, which recreates the way the brain interacts with the body.
Lausanne University Hospital neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch explained further, saying:
“In our method, we implant an array of electrodes over the spinal cord which allows us to target individual muscle groups in the legs. Selected configurations of electrodes are activating specific regions of the spinal cord, mimicking the signals that the brain would deliver to produce walking.”
This promising treatment is giving hope to both patients and doctors in the neurological field. This trial suggests that the brain and spinal cord can re-establish a connection and people can regain some control over parts of the body they had lost use of.
At present, experts say that the treatment is far too expensive and impractical outside of the laboratory setting. However there is no downsizing the major break through that has been made, both in terms of the technology and the understanding of paralysis. New hope has been given to those suffering with paralysis and the excitement is palpable in Courtine’s delivery of the video.