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Spinal stimulation helps paralysed men move their legs

8th April 2014

Four men, who have been paralysed for years have been able to move their legs after electrical stimulation of their spinal cords, US doctors report.

SkeletonThey were able to flex their toes, ankles and knees - but could not walk by themselves.

A team at the University of Louisville and the University of California have been pioneering electrical stimulation of the spinal cord below the injury.

The spinal cord carries electrical messages from the brain to the rest of the body. If there is damage to the spinal cord then, without help, the message will not go through - leaving some people with no movement and, in some cases, no sensation below.

Although it is not certain how the stimulation helps, the researchers believe that some signals are moving through the injury but not usually enough to trigger movement.

The journal Brain, contained a report that suggested the electricity makes the spinal cord more receptive to the messages still arriving from the brain, albeit through the damaged line.

Experts say it could become a treatment for spinal injury.

One of the researchers, Dr Claudia Angeli, said: "They will tell you that the stimulation itself and being able to practise and move around makes them feel a lot better, some of them will just describe it as feeling alive again."

This news has proven that there is progress to be made and that hope exists for those who have lost function after paralysis.

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