Three patients, who have been paralyzed from their waist down, have been able to stand and walk again after having an electrical patch fitted to their spinal cords.
Experts say that the device, being placed below the injury will help lost signals from the brain to reach the muscles of the legs. United States research teams at the University of Louisville and the Mayo Clinic reported the success of the implant in the latest update of the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Medicine on September 24.
"Spinal sensorimotor networks that are functionally disconnected from the brain because of spinal cord injury (SCI) can be facilitated via epidural electrical stimulation (EES) to restore robust, coordinated motor activity in humans with paralysis," it stated on the abstract in Nature Medicine.
Kelly Thomas from Florida said that her life has been transformed by the technology and that it provided her hope after her car accident.
"Being a participant in this study truly changed my life, as it has provided me with a hope that I didn't think was possible after my car accident," Thomas said to BBC. "The first day I took steps on my own was an emotional milestone in my recovery that I'll never forget, as one minute I was walking with the trainer's assistance and while they stopped, I continued walking on my own. It's amazing what the human body can accomplish with help from research and technology."
Neurosurgeon Dr. Kendall Lee, who co-led the team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said that it is very exciting to finally see the result and its success but he also added that it is still very early as they are still in the research stage.
"It gives hope to people faced with paralysis," Dr. Lee said even though there are still unanswered questions like how precisely the device works and who it might help.