Breakthrough Implant Enables Paralyzed Patient to Walk Again

Share:

A man who had been paralyzed for a decade due to a spinal cord injury is now able to walk again, thanks to a revolutionary new implant.

This amazing device reconnects the brain and the spinal nerves that control walking, effectively restoring communication interrupted by his injury.

Even more impressively, with rehabilitation therapy, the patient can now walk with crutches even when the implant is switched off.

How It Works

The new brain-spine interface (BSI) was developed by Grégoire Courtine, a Professor of Neuroscience in Switzerland, and his team.

“We have created a wireless interface between the brain and the spinal cord that transforms thought into action,” explained Courtine.

The Patient’s Journey

Gert-Jan Oskam, the patient in this groundbreaking study, was 38 years old when he sustained a spinal cord injury in a cycling accident 10 years ago.

This injury left his legs paralyzed. The treatment aimed to bypass the damaged area, creating a “digital bridge” between his brain and spinal cord.

The Procedure

Neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch explained, “We implanted devices above the brain area responsible for controlling leg movements.

These devices decode the brain’s electrical signals when we think about walking.

We also positioned a neurostimulator with an electrode array over the spinal cord region that controls leg movement.”

Rapid Results

The BSI device calibrated quickly, and within minutes, Oskam started regaining some control over his paralyzed muscles.

Over time, his ability to move improved significantly.

The BSI has remained stable for over a year, allowing him to stand, walk, climb stairs, and navigate complex terrain.

Long-Term Impact

Remarkably, further neurorehabilitation while using the device suggests that new nerve connections are developing.

Even with the BSI switched off, Oskam can walk with crutches. This indicates some level of spinal cord recovery.

Future Potential

Previous methods of restoring movement after paralysis involved electrical stimulation and had limitations, such as the need for motion sensors.

The BSI, however, offers more freedom and adaptability to different terrains.

Although this is the first human test of the BSI, Courtine and Bloch believe it could be adapted for other types of paralysis, such as those affecting the arms and hands, or paralysis caused by strokes.

Funding has already been secured to develop a commercial version of the BSI, with hopes of making it available to patients worldwide.

A New Lease on Life

For Oskam, the surgery and rehabilitation have brought back simple joys, like standing at a bar and sharing a drink with friends.

“This simple pleasure represents a significant change in my life,” he said.

This breakthrough offers hope and highlights the potential for innovative technology to dramatically improve the lives of those with spinal cord injuries.


Share: