17.6 C
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeWorldVideo: This is how a paralyzed person was able to regain his...

Video: This is how a paralyzed person was able to regain his ability to walk by thinking


A paraplegic has regained normal control of the ability to walk by thinking, a feat achieved for the first time thanks to the combination of two technologies that restored the connection between the brain and spinal cord.

With the words “I have regained some freedom,” the patient, Gert Jan, who did not want to mention his family name, summed up his feeling, as this 40-year-old Dutch man, who suffers from a spinal cord injury at the level of the cervical vertebrae, as a result of a bicycle accident ten years ago, is now able to , to stand and move in various spaces of nature and even to climb stairs.

Jocelyn Block, a Swiss surgeon and professor at the Fud University Medical Center, explained, While explaining the results of a study published Wednesday in the journal “Nature”that the man “could not at first put one foot in front of the other.”

Before him, walking became possible again for a number of other patients who could not move their legs. However, the study showed that this man is the first to regain the ability to control the movement of his legs and the rhythm of his steps by thinking.

And it was possible to reach this achievement by combining two technologies implanted in his brain and spinal cord, as explained to AFP by researcher Guillaume Charvier of the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies, which is one of the parties participating in the project. This was achieved as a result of ten years of research conducted by teams in France and Switzerland.

The spinal cord protected by the spine is an extension of the brain and controls a large number of movements, and damage to the brain connection leads to the inability to carry out these movements in an irreparable way.

Turn intentions into action

In an attempt to address this problem, electrodes developed by the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy were implanted in the paralyzed patient over the area of ​​the brain responsible for leg movements.

These electrodes allow the decoding of electrical signals generated by the brain when a person is thinking about walking. At the same time, a nerve stimulator attached to a field of electrodes was placed over the area of ​​the spinal cord that controls movement of the legs.

Thanks to algorithms based on AI methods, movement intentions can be decoded in real time from brain recordings. These intentions are then converted into electrical sequences to stimulate the spinal cord, which in turn activates the leg muscles to achieve the desired movement.

The data is transmitted via a portable system, which is placed on a treadmill or in a small backpack, allowing the patient to do without any external assistance.

So far, a single implant that electronically stimulates the spinal cord has allowed paraplegics to walk again. But controlling this gait was not natural. As for this time, what is new is that the digital bridge that was established between the brain and the spinal cord not only allowed Gert Yan to move, but also enabled him to voluntarily control his movements and their extent.

Restoration of sensory and motor abilities

And the French neuroscientist, professor of neuroscience at the Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Gregoire Courtine, highlighted that “the matter is radically different from what has been reached so far.” He explained that “the previous patients used to walk with great effort, but now the patient only needs to think about walking in order to take a step.”

The Dutchman described what he went through to be able to stand again and walk for several minutes in a row as a “long journey”, as he underwent two surgeries to place the implants. Another important progress was recorded, as after six months of training, it appears that he has regained part of his sensory and motor abilities, despite the fact that the system is broken.

Guillaume Charvais of the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies said, “These results indicate that the establishment of a link between the brain and the spinal cord would promote the reorganization of neural circuits at the level of injury.”

When asked if this technology would soon be available to all who need it, Charvih replied that “it will take many years of research” before it can be generalized. However, the teams are beginning to prepare to launch an experiment to restore the function of the arms and hands using the same technique. The researchers also hope to apply it to other clinical conditions, including paralysis caused by stroke.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories