Two paralysed people walk again with electrodes implant

Experimental treatment uses device in spine combined with intense physical therapy

Doctors in the US state of Kentucky report that two of four paralysed patients are able to walk again with limited assistance after treatment with electrical stimulation to the portion of the spinal cord cut off from the brain, combined with intense physical therapy.

The technique is still experimental and partly relies on the implantation of electrodes that seem to prime the largely dormant part of the spinal cord to listen to the brain's faintly echoed commands to walk.

We are able to walk independent of the brain "in a sense" because the human spinal circuitry is the primary controller of walking, according to Dr Susan Harkema (PhD), a leader of the team from the University of Louisville.

Below the level of a spinal cord injury, hundreds of thousands of nerve cells "are still alive and healthy and still connected in a network that controls movement", which allows walking with minimal