Scientists in Switzerland say they’ve developed a spinal implant that enables paralyzed people to walk again.
David Mzee was paralyzed for seven years until one of Switzerland’s leading neurosurgeons gave him a spinal implant that changed his life.
Here he is training with it a year ago. When the device is turned off, he can’t move, when it’s on, he continues to walk.
Dr. Jocelyne Bloch, Neurosurgeon, Lausanne University says, “This little device that is an impulse generator is giving impulses to the electrode that is located on the spinal cord.”
David can control the stimulation remotely through his watch. When it’s on, he’s able to walk more than half a mile.
David says, “I think you have to try and do the impossible to make the possible possible – and I think we’re doing that and it feels good.”
Nerves in the spinal cord send signals from the brain to the legs. In someone who is paralyzed – there is usually a small signal but its too weak to create movement. The implant boosts the signal activating muscles in the legs.
The scientist who developed the technique says the implant even seems to help repair damaged nerves.
Doctors are working to make the stimulation more comfortable for patients like david so they can keep the device active all the time. While this research shows paralysis can be reversed to some degree, the question remains, by how much.