A 29-year-old man paralysed from the waist down created history by walking on his own following a ground-breaking surgery. Jered Chinnock from Tomah, Wisconsin lost the ability to move his legs after a snowmobile accident. Minnesota doctors took an interest in his case and implanted a remote-controlled electrode in his back. The electrical signals from the electrode helped in stimulating the undamaged nerves in his spinal cord, helping him stand on his own legs literally for the first time in five years. The stunning part about the technology is that Jered used his own thoughts to control the paralysed limbs.
That’s not all. Jared also took his first few steps and walked for over 100 meters while pushing a wheelchair. The team from Mayo Clinic is credited with the development of the technology. The workings of the electrodes are explained in the journal Nature Medicine in the study titled: "Neuromodulation of lumbosacral spinal networks enables independent stepping after complete paraplegia."
In the study, the researchers explained how inserting an electrode in the epidural space in the fat-filled hollow region around the spinal cord. The battery was embedded inside the abdomen and connected to the electrode through a wire implanted in the skin. Five-Year-Old Girl Paralysed By A Tick Bite, Mother Discovers Blood-Sucking Insect On The Child's Scalp
Researchers are excited at the prospects of stimulating severed spinal cord to help the paralysed regain movements in their limbs. The residual nerves in the spinal cord help in keeping the channel of communication open between them and the brain. Paralysis Can be Reversed by Brain Zapping.
Watch the video to know how the mind-controlled technology works:
Way forward, the researchers have to identify how and why it happened and the patients who may respond to the technology. The neurosurgeon Dr Kendall Lee, from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota spoke about the prospects of the technology, adding that it is still at its early stage in the research.
Jered revealed that while he managed to walk with the electrode support, he still can’t do without the wheelchair. But he hopes to leave it behind someday and walk independently. With the remote-controlled electrode turned off, Jered’s legs will go back to their paralysed state again.
As of now, he uses harnesses to ensure that he doesn’t fall while taking his first steps. After 25 weeks of training, he may not need them.