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The paralyzed man started walking after 12 years. This is the first such procedure that could be a breakthrough

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A man with a spinal cord injury is walking again thanks to a new procedure performed in Switzerland. The results of the study could be a real breakthrough for people with disabilities.

Dutchman Gert-Jan Oskam had an accident twelve years ago. The man was paralyzed from the waist down due to a twisted neck and a partial rupture of the spinal cord. At that time, doctors did not give him hope for the restoration of physical form. However, a few years ago, the man took part in a study by Swiss specialists. He was implanted electrodes to the spinal cord that delivered electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves. Although the device allowed him to take multiple steps at the same time, his movements were rather stiff and had to be triggered by a button or sensor.

Innovative walking aid

In the latest study, Prof. Jocelyn Bloch, a neurosurgeon at the University Hospital of Lausanne, placed electrodes on Oscar’s brain. They detect neural activity when a man tries to move his legs. “What we have been able to do is to recreate the connection between the brain and the area of ​​the spinal cord that controls leg movements using a digital bridge,” said the professor. Grégoire Curtin of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

A team of scientists has developed a solution to digitally bridge the disconnect between the human brain and the lower body. A previously paralyzed man now walks with the help of a device that connects his brain to his muscles. When a 40-year-old man wants to stand up, brain waves are transmitted wirelessly from a device implanted in his skull to a spinal stimulator. From there, the signal is redirected and delivers electrical impulses to the spinal cord. The signal is decoded by a computer that a 40-year-old man must carry with him. His gait is now smoother, he can also climb obstacles and climb stairs, navigate difficult terrain (which was previously impossible). “Before, stimulation controlled me, and now I control stimulation. When I decide to take a step, the simulation will run as soon as I think about it,” Oscar explained.

The previous device generated movements similar to those of a robot. Pioneering research could help develop miniature devices for paralyzed people. “Now it’s completely different because Oscar has total control over the stimulation parameter, which means he can stop, he can walk, he can climb stairs. We have created a wireless interface between the brain and spinal cord that turns thoughts into actions,” said Grégoire Curtin.

Hope for the Paralyzed

The latest achievement of a team of neurologists from Switzerland is a device resembling a “digital bridge”. “We implanted devices over the area of ​​the brain responsible for controlling leg movements. These devices decode the electrical signals generated by the brain when the patient thinks about walking. We also placed a neurostimulator connected to an array of electrodes over the area of ​​the spinal cord that controls leg movement,” explained neurosurgeon Jocelyn Bloch from the University Hospital of Lausanne.

Moreover, there are indications that the device supports rehabilitation. After more than 40 workouts, the man partially regained control of his legs. He had it even when the device was turned off. It should be noted, however, that during the accident he did not cut all the vertebrae in the spinal cord. The researchers therefore believe that reconnecting the brain and spinal cord helps regenerate the spinal nerves and therefore part of the patient’s lost control.

The authors of the study note that this groundbreaking single-participant discovery is proof of the validity of their concept. However, it is not yet known whether other people with spinal cord injuries will get similar results. The researchers also say the technique could be applied to people who are paralyzed for other reasons, such as after a stroke. However, the device is still at an early stage of development. Currently, it is also too expensive for mass use, but it again gives paralyzed people hope for fitness.

Author: Joanna Run
Source: WPROST.pl

Source: Wprost

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