Paralysed man with a severely damaged spine gets second chance to walk

Date:8 February 2022 Author: Leigh-Ann Londt Tags:, ,

In 2017, Michel Roccati was involved in a severe motorcycle accident and was unable to walk, cycle and climb as his spine had been damaged.

According to Business Insider, Michel is now able to walk again thanks to the help of a tablet-controlled device developed by a team of Swiss researchers.

This is the first time someone has been able to walk freely after having severe spinal damage. The same technology has also played a part in another paralysed patient who has now been able to become a father, reports BBC.com.

Roccati was one of three paralysed men to test a prototype of a spinal implant that has been developed to help them move their limbs again. All three of the individuals who got the implant were able to stand and move their legs just hours after they had undergone surgery.

They had to use a walker for a few days, but thanks to many months of therapy and practice in the lab, each one of them regained their mobility.

Neuroscientist and device co-developer Prof Gherégoire Courtine told BBC that the device does not cure spinal injuries, however, it has allowed nine people with spinal injuries to walks again.

“I stand up, walk where I want to, I can walk the stairs — it’s almost a normal life,” Roccati told the BBC.

The device sends electrical pulses to Roccati’s spine and is a soft, flat electrode that is nestled between the spinal nerves and the vertebrae. The Lausanne scientists developed the technology to send an electric signal to each area of the spine that controls movement.

The patient is then able to control their own movements via a tablet or a smartphone using a software that sends electric signals for each action requested, like taking a step or simply kicking the legs for swimming purposes.

Picture: Supplied

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