A Paralyzed Man With A Severed Spinal Cord Has Been Able To Walk Again, Thanks To An Implant

February 8, 2022

A paralyzed man is walking again after a team of Swiss doctors implanted electrodes in his spine to reactivate his muscles.

paralyzed man walks spinal implant
Michel Roccati

In 2017, Michel Roccati was in a motorcycle accident that left his lower body completely paralyzed. His spinal cord was completely severed.

But now he can walk, thanks to a breakthrough spinal cord implant.

The implant sends electrical pulses to his muscles, mimicking the action of the brain.

"I stand up, walk where I want to, I can walk the stairs - it's almost a normal life," Roccati said.

The speed of Michel's recovery amazed Prof Jocelyne Bloch, the neurosurgeon who inserted the implant.

"I was extremely surprised," she told the BBC. "Michel is absolutely incredible. He should be able to use this technology to progress and be better and better."

Roccati is currently able to stand for two hours and walk almost one kilometer without stopping. However, researchers say there is still a long way to go before the technology can be used routinely to help paralyzed people to walk.

"This is not a cure for spinal cord injury. But it is a critical step to improve people's quality of life," said Prof Grégoire Courtine, who led the team that developed the technology at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

"We are going to empower people. We are going to give them the ability to stand, to take some steps. It is not enough, but it is a significant improvement."

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