Restoring walking after spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injury leads to devastating walking deficits, or even complete leg paralysis. Gregoire Courtine and colleagues have developed a new technology for rehabilitation of walking in subjects with spinal cord injury. The technique involves first identifying spatial patterns of electrical stimulation to the spinal cord that recruit groups of muscles that are normally active during walking, then delivering timed stimulation that coincides with intended movements. After rehabilitation, subjects regained control over previously paralysed muscles and could walk extensively on a treadmill without fatiguing, as well as in naturalistic situations. This technology represents a substantial advance over previous attempts to restore function following spinal cord injury.
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