A Paralyzed man can walk again, thanks to implant
by Mark R
For some reason, I keep writing about bionics and how they can help the disabled. I started this week with the exoskeleton that allowed a UC Berkeley graduate to walk for his graduation, and just yesterday I discussed Patrick’s bionic hand.
I guess that technology is allowing us to help the incapacitated in ways that we didn’t think of before. Now, thanks to a procedure developed by neuroscientists at the University of Louisville, UCLA, and Cal Tech, Rob Summers can walk again.
Summers was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 2005, but an implant allows him to stand on his own and remain standing for about four minutes. The spinal implant can emit small pulses of electricity that replicate signals that the brain needs to move the body’s limbs. The harness that you see in the picture helps him take steps on a treadmill and move his legs.
Summers standing and walking again is the product of about 30 years of research, all funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This treatment, also known as epidural stimulation, is considered a breakthrough by the researchers, as it has never been seen before on someone like Summers, who had a complete spinal cord injury.
I know what you are thinking, because I’m thinking it too. I don’t want Mr. Summers to be the last case of this. Hopefully a lot more can walk again.