Researchers from Switzerland have found that an implanted electrode device enabled three patients with spinal cord injury to stand and walk again, CNN reported Monday.
Participants in the STIMO clinical trial were able to independently take steps on a treadmill using body weight support a day after undergoing surgery to place the epidural device from Onward Medical.
“For the first time, we have not only immediate effect – though training is still important – but also individuals with no sensation, no movement whatsover, have been able to regain full standing and walking independently of the laboratory,” said Gregoire Courtine of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Courtine is one of the study’s authors who led the trial with Dr. Jocelyne Bloch from Lausanne University Hospital.
Using a tablet computer, the researchers stimulated the patients’ trunk and leg muscles by initiating and sending unique sequences of electrical pulses to the implanted device through the pacemaker.
The research team plans to hold a larger clinical trial in the U.S. The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.