A man who was paralysed in a motorcycle accident in 2017 has regained the ability to walk after doctors implanted electrodes in his spine to reactivate his muscles.
The implant sends electrical pulses to his muscles, mimicking the action of the brain, and could one day help people with severe spinal injuries stand, walk, and exercise. It is the first time someone who has had a complete cut to their spinal cord has been able to walk freely.
The same technology has improved the health of another paralysed patient to the extent that he has been able to become a father.
Michel Roccati lost all feeling and movement in his legs after the crash that severed his spinal cord, but can stand and walk with electrical stimulation that is controlled wirelessly from a tablet. But he can now walk – because of the electrical implant that has been surgically attached to his spine.
Someone this injured has never been able to walk like this before, researchers stress that it isn’t a cure for spinal injury and that the technology is still too complicated to be used in everyday life, but hail it nonetheless as a major step to improving quality of life.