A man who was paralyzed from the chest down in 2006 has been able to stand and even take a few steps, thanks to an electrical stimulator surgically implanted in his spine, according to The Reporter News. Several hospitals and spinal cord injury specialists are working together on the man’s condition, including doctors at the Kentucky Spine Center, and recently published a paper describing the results in the medical journal Lancet.
The man was left paralyzed after suffering a spinal cord injury a car accident several years ago, and there has been no improvement in his condition despite three years of physical therapy. In 2009, his physicians tried implanting a stimulator at the base of his spine. When turned on, the device sends an electrical charge along the spinal cord.
Within a few days of receiving the implant, the man was able to stand on his own. He gradually regained the ability to wiggle his toes, bend his knees, and even walk on a treadmill with assistance. He can only move while the device is turned on, and his physicians have so far limited his use of the device to a few hours per day. Like most treatments for severe spinal cord injury, the electrical stimulator is not cheap, and this particularly therapy is experimental. However, the treatment has given the man and his family new hope, and it has also opened doors for researchers by telling them more about how the spinal cord works.
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