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Once paralyzed, three men again take steps with a spinal implant



The men's treatment began with surgery. The doctors implanted a small piece of electrodes on the surface of the spinal cord in the lower back, where each injury had been. The patch was connected to a pacemaker that was in the abdomen.

When implanted, the device delivered pulses to the individual muscles as they were applied. The intention to lift one knee produced a particular pattern of nerve engorgement. One step forward created another. In fact, the device provided the pattern of stimulation that the body had delivered before the onset of the injury. Over time – with intense physical therapy, on a treadmill with hand support ̵

1; the stimulation seemed to activate the motor cortex of the brain through injured nerves, Dr. Courtine.

The brain was really massive. " Courtine. "There were many new connections from the motor cortex to the brain stem." The same would be expected in humans, he said.

After his injury, Mr. Mzee began playing wheelchair rugby and soon became a national team member. The injury also plunged him into his own research; through a doctor he learned about the program in Lausanne and the animal experiments. When he heard that there was a trial of people in work, he answered quickly.

"It's really hard to say what's next," Mr. Mzee said. "I think the next step must be very big, and one of the problems is that I have to have some control over the hull. My trunk is not well balanced. I'm trying to set up a body support system at home to do more rehab, but it's expensive. Without these supports I am still not stable. "

However, rehabilitation – the hard work, sweat, and discipline that has proved helpful to many patients – will be essential to the recovery process. "We have known for years that people with partial paralysis can respond to rehabilitation," said Drs. Anderson. "The problem is due to access. Long-term rehabilitation in a chronic environment is not paid by many insurers. Therefore, most people with motor incomplete injuries do not fully recover. "


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