Remember that spinal implant that helped a paraplegic man walk (albeit in a harness) back in 2011? It’s now been tested on three more partially paralyzed patients — and it’s working. The original device was a 16-electrode array that emitted small pulses of electricity to the spine, simulating the brain’s natural impulses. With intensive therapy and training patients have been able to regain limited control over their paralyzed extremities.
Nobody is walking just yet, but the recent study’s success (published in Brain, a neurology journal) proves that the treatment works on a wider range of patients. It also demonstrates that the results of the original experiment can be replicated. It’s still a long way from a cure for paralysis, but the paper’s authors are optimistic about its future application, stating that “we can now envision a day where epidural stimulation might be part of a cocktail of therapies used to treat paralysis.” Read the study for yourself in Brain, or skip past the break to see the patients trying out their new implants.