Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Electrical stimulus helps paralysed man walk again

  • Comment

Pioneering treatment involving hours of training in tandem with electrical stimulus has allowed a hit-and-run victim who was completely paralysed from the waist down to stand up unaided and take steps on a treadmill.

According to the Lancet medical journal, American Rob Summers, 25, is the first patient to benefit from the treatment, which has taken three decades to develop fully. Mr Summers admitted that the procedure has changed his life.

Scientists say that the treatment bypasses the brain and teaches the spinal cord to control limbs and body functions independently, with Mr Summers - normally confined to a wheelchair - able to voluntarily move his hips, knees, ankles and toes.

Professor Reggie Edgerton from the University of California in Los Angeles, a leading member of the 11-person team of researchers, said: “The neural networks in the lumbosacral spinal cord are capable of initiating full weight bearing and relatively co-ordinated stepping without any input from the brain. This is possible, in part, due to information that is sent back from the legs directly to the spinal cord.

“This sensory feedback from the feet and legs to the spinal cord facilitates the individual’s potential to balance and step over a range of speeds, directions and level of weight bearing.

“The spinal cord can independently interpret these data and send movement instructions back to the legs - all without cortical (brain) involvement.”

 

 

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.