Now Paralyzed People will walk, Thanks to Flexible Spinal Cord implants

EPFL's spinal cord implant prototype

Doctors are still aiming to help their paralyzed patients walk again through the use of implants stimulating their spinal cords, however current technology makes that impossible.  This is due to the stiff, unnatural gadgets that over time result in damaging or inflaming nervous tissue, but Swiss researchers may have resolved that problem once and for all. Their bendy e-Dura implant combines flexible electrodes (made of platinum and silicon microbeads), cracked gold electronic tracks and fluidic microchannels that deliver electrical impulses AND chemicals, all while mimicking the spine’s movements and avoiding friction. Test runs on paralyzed rats in lab tests resulting in them walking again after only a few weeks and continue to wear their implants after a two month period.

As these things go, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time before e-Dura implants go into human field trials and reach hospitals. That said, scientists believe the technology’s potential extends beyond just overcoming spinal cord injuries, as it could treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and even reduce chronic pain for numerous other conditions. While this is NOT a cure, it WOULD let many people regain their mobility and independence (as well as some semblance of a normal life) without any complications or having to rely on external devices like those bulky (yet kinda-cool-looking in a Terminator or AT-AT kind-of-way) exoskeletons.

[Thanks Telegraph & EPFL]

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