The combination of two technologies allowed a paraplegic man to walk again naturally in Switzerland, after communication was re-established between your brain and spinal cord. «I got my freedom back“Said the patient, the Dutch Gert-Jan, at a press conference this Wednesday.
The treatment was carried out in a Swiss hospital in the city of Lausanne, and enabled the 40-year-old man to move a foot again behind each other for the first time since, a decade ago, he suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a bicycle accident.
«Was unable at first to put one foot in front of the other“, explained the Swiss surgeon Jocelyne Bloch, professor at the Vaud University Hospital Center, during the presentation of a study published today in the journal Nature.
Before, other paraplegic people had already managed to walk again, thanks to technological instruments, but the case of Gert-Jan He is the first in which he controls thanks to his brain the movement of his legs and the rhythm of his steps.
The feat was possible, specified the authors of the work, thanks to the combination of two technologies implanted in the brain and spinal cord of the patient, who had been using wheelchairs for just over 10 years.
At work they intervened two laboratoriesone French and one Swiss, who finally achieved unprecedented results, after several years of joint research.
A paraplegic man walked again in Switzerland: how the technology used works
TO gert-jan they implanted some electrodes developed by the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), in the area of the brain that is in charge of leg movement.
It is a device that is used to decode electronic signals from the brain when you think to walk and is also connected to a field of electrodes, which is located in the area of the spinal cord and serves to control the movement of the legs.
Based on algorithms that work with artificial intelligence, the movement intentions of the patient are decoded in real timeallowing their wills to become electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, which activates the leg muscles to move.
While the researchers managed to receive the data between the technology integrated in the brain that of the spinal cord thanks a portable systemavailable to carry in a backpack or walker.
In this way, the Dutch patient, a paraplegic product of a fall on a bicycle, he returned to walking and voluntarily controlling his movements and the breadth of them, thanks to the digital bridge between the brain and the marrow, instead of transplants or instruments, as in previous cases.
«It is very different from what we have seen so far.“, highlighted the French neuroscientist, Grégoire Courtine, professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, and participant in the achievement.
A paraplegic man walked again in Switzerland: the possibility of large-scale treatment
Before consulting if it can be used on a large scale this innovative technology, the team that led the development mentioned that «we will still need many years of research”.
However, they anticipate that they will soon start a trial to use this technology, apparently revolutionary in scope, in paraplegics of arms and legs, and also in patients with cerebrovascular accidents.
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