Three completely paralyzed people from the waist down due to spinal injuries are now able to walk in tandem with wheeled walking frames or crutches for support, as a consequence of implants that electrically stimulate nerves in their legs and back.
“All three patients immediately after the surgery were able to stand up and to step (with support),” confirmed Jocelyne Bloch at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland who executed the surgeries.
“On the first day, I was able to see my legs moving and it was very, very emotional,” said Michel Roccati one of the patients.
After training for a few months, he was able to walk outside using a walker.
In the four-hour long operation, surgeons attached electrodes that send out synchronized electrical signals that imitate the signals that generally run through the spinal cord to deliver the brain’s instructions to the lower limbs.
The implants are connected to a computer with an artificial intelligence software that then reproduces the necessary impulses that allow the patient to stand, walk and even accomplish activities including riding a modified bicycle and swimming.
The 3D implants which are made from using human cells, had an 80% success rate in allowing paralyzed mice in the laboratory to walk again, researchers said.