Picture this: Four men, all classified with chronic, motor complete spinal cord injuries, who have been paralyzed for years are able to voluntarily raise their legs. This picture has come to life, thanks to a breakthrough therapy known as epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.
According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, nearly one in 50 people lives with paralysis, or approximately six million people, of whom 1,275,000 have spinal cord injuries. That number is nearly 33 previous higher than previous estimates showed.
The study, published in the journal Brain, was conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville, UCLA, and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology and involved four men who were unable to move their lower extremities prior to the implantation of an epidural stimulator. The stimulator delivers a continuous electrical current to the participants’ lower spinal cords, mimicking signals the brain normally transmits to initiate movement.