Paralysed People Learn To Walk Again Thanks To World First Implant
Three people have done something they may never dreamed to be possible after being paralysed - taking their first steps since the devastating accidents that turned their lives on their heads.
Until recently, the received scientific wisdom was that neuron networks below a spinal cord injury ceased to function following paralysis. But a major breakthrough by the Mayo Clinic has redefined impossible. The implant works by reconnecting the neurons in the patient's legs with their brain.
According to the Mail Online, 29-year-old Jered Chinnock is the first person to have benefited from the treatment. Mr Chinnock, who is from Wisconsin, USA, has been paralysed since 2013 when he was thrown from his snow mobile and hit by another snow mobile. Surgeons were able to screw his spine back together, but he was left paralysed below his mid-torso.
According to the Mail Online, he said: "I just thought I got the wind knocked out of me and needed to catch my breath and realised I couldn't get up.
"I was just pretty much set in my ways of going to be in my wheelchair the rest of my life."
Prior to receiving the life-changing implant, Mr Chinnock had to take part in 22 weeks of physical therapy, whereby he was hoisted onto a treadmill in order to build up strength in his muscles, which had deteriorated due to lack of use.
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Following this, an electrode was inserted below the injured area and connected to a pacemaker in his stomach. The amount of voltage can then be adjusted using a remote control.
Within a fortnight, the results of the operation had delighted both surgeons and Mr Chinnock.
According to the Mail Online, Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon, Dr Kendall Lee, said: "[Chinnock] was able to regain voluntary control of the movement in his legs. The patient's own thoughts were able to drive this.
"We were able to get him to stand independently and be able to take his own steps."
The research behind the huge development was partially funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The late former Superman actor's foundation was set up after he was paralysed in a horse riding accident in 1995. It was hoped the foundation could help people who suffered similar misfortune, and it looks as though it may have done just that.
The other two patients to successfully receive the treatment are 23-year-old Kelly Thomas and 35-year-old Jeff Marquis, who both took part in a similar study at the University of Louisville.
It is hoped that the treatment could eventually be used to help millions of wheelchair users.
Featured Image Credit: Mayo Clinic
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