posted on May, 20 2011 @ 08:32 AM
A US man who was paralysed from the chest down after being hit by a car is now able to stand with electrical stimulation of his spinal cord.
Rob Summers, from Oregon, said standing on his own was "the most amazing feeling".
He can voluntarily move his toes, hips, knees and ankles and also walk on a treadmill while being supported, according to research in the Lancet.
How does it work?
In most spinal cord injuries only a small amount of the tissue is damaged so many nerve cells remain.
The researchers say these cells pick up signals from the legs and respond automatically. This is what allows a healthy person to stand still or walk
without actively thinking about it and it is this process the doctors were trying to tap into.
But after a spinal injury the cells need help, in this case precise electric stimulation.
It mimics a message from the brain to start moving and changes the "mood" of the spinal cord so that it is able to hear the information which is
coming in from the legs and respond. Researchers say this, coupled with intensive training, allowed Rob to stand or walk while supported on a
The researchers admit to having "no idea" about how the brain was also able to gain direct control of the toes, knee and hips.
They speculate that some nerve cells are being reactivated or maybe more of them are being created allowed signals from the brain to pass down the
edit on 22/03/2011 by Alpal because: (no reason given)