Swiss scientists enable paralyzed monkeys to walk again

Swiss scientists enable paralyzed monkeys to walk again

Making a major breakthrough in fighting spinal cord injuries, a team of Swiss scientists have demonstrated how a wireless device can be used to allow paralyzed monkeys to walk again.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology outfitted paralyzed monkeys with set of wireless brain and spinal cord implants capable of generating pulses that move the primates’ legs.

As the monkeys had severed spinal cords, they were not able to move their legs. But, the device allowed their brains to bypass the spinal cord injury by sending the instructions direct to the nerves responsible for controlling movements of legs.

David Borton, the study’s co-author, explained that the wireless device read electrical activity’s spikes (instructions for moving the legs) and send them to a nearby computer, which deciphered that information and diverted it to the monkey’s spine, electrically stimulating the appropriate nerves.

Dr. Jocelyne Bloch, a surgeon, said, “For the first time I can imagine a patient, completely plegic, being able to obey to his brain commands.”

However, lead researcher Grégoire Courtine said that several challenges and issues will have to be fixed before similar devices can be developed to help paralyzed humans, but suggested that it could start as an efficient therapy within a decade.


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