A brain implant helped a man with paralysis walk more naturally

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 11:13 in Health & Medicine

A system that restores communication between the brain and spine has enabled a man paralyzed by a spinal cord injury to regain near natural walking ability. Once the patient’s brain activity was decoded, the brain-spine interface took mere minutes to calibrate, after which the man reported natural-feeling control over movements. He still needs crutches but can easily navigate ramps and steps, surpassing gains from previous treatments, researchers report May 24 in Nature. “The results are consistent with what I’d hope would happen, which is encouraging,” says V. Reggie Edgerton, a physiologist at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif., who was not involved in the study. In terms of treating spinal cord paralysis, he says, “we’re at the stage of the Wright brothers and flight.” Spinal cord injuries can interrupt communication between the brain and spine, causing paralysis. Previous research showed that stimulating spinal cord nerves can produce movement (SN: 8/3/22),...

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