Paralyzed rats were able to walk and run again through a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, and robotics-assisted rehabilitation. In the new issue of the journal Science, the researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne report that their technique spurred a regrowth of nerve fibers in the brain and spine. From EPFL:
According to lead author Grégoire Courtine, it is yet unclear if similar rehabilitation techniques could work for humans, but the observed nerve growth hints at new methods for treating paralysis.
“After a couple of weeks of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation, our rats are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they are soon sprinting, climbing up stairs and avoiding obstacles when stimulated,” explains Courtine, who holds the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) Chair in Spinal Cord Repair at EPFL.