by Lauran Neergaard
Three people whose legs were paralyzed for years can stand and take steps again thanks to an electrical implant that zaps the injured spinal cord — along with months of intense rehab, researchers reported Monday. The milestone, reported by two teams of scientists working separately, isn’t a cure. The patients walk only with assistance — holding onto a rolling walker or with other help to keep their balance. Switch off the spinal stimulator and they no longer can voluntarily move their legs. But during one physical therapy session at the Mayo Clinic, 29-year-old Jered Chinnock moved back and forth enough to cover about the length of a football field…“This study gives hope to people who are faced with paralysis that functional control may be possible,” said Dr. Kendall Lee, a Mayo neurosurgeon who treated Chinnock and co-authored the Nature Medicine report.
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Context: Spinal cord stimulation and physical therapy have helped a man paralyzed since 2013 regain his ability to stand and walk with assistance. The results, achieved in a research collaboration between Mayo Clinic and UCLA, are reported in Nature Medicine. With an implanted stimulator turned on, the man, Jered Chinnock, was able to step with a front-wheeled walker while trainers provided occasional assistance. You can learn more about the research on Mayo Clinic News Network.