LOUISVILLE, KY (KCBD) - There is a major advancement today for people with spinal cord injuries. Researchers at the University of Louisville say four paralyzed men are now able to move certain muscles in their legs.
Doctors focused on the lower spine, below the point of injury. That's where they implanted 16 electrodes and a stimulator, operated by a remote, to mimic signals from the brain, and initiate movement.
"This is a very, very low-level stimulus that is re-awakening the circuits to cause the circuits to remember what they used to do," says Dr. Grace Peng with the National Institutes of Health.
"Being able to move my toes, ankles, knees on command, it was absolutely incredible. There are not enough words to describe how I felt. At one point it was just a dream, and now its reality," says patient Rob Summers.
Rob Summers was the first to receive the stimulator, and eventually was able to stand on his own for short periods of time. Three years later, he is doing sit-ups. And now others are joining him, regaining muscle mass and recovering other functions otherwise lost to their injuries, even sexual function and bladder control.
This is amazing, exciting news for the nearly 6-million Americans living with paralysis. More than one million of them have spinal cord injuries.
The study for this was funded in part by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.