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Three paralysed men walk again after electrical pulses into spinal cords

Three paralysed men can now stand, walk and even cycle because of a device that delivers electrical pulses into their spinal cords.

The groundbreaking device is soft and flexible device and lies directly on top of the spinal nerves beneath the vertebrae.

It stimulates muscles in the trunk and legs, according to a new study, published on Monday (February 7) in the journal Nature Medicine.

The device can be controlled wirelessly with software, operated from a tablet and a handheld clicker while it allows the subjects renewed freedom.

"All three patients were able to stand, walk, pedal, swim and control their torso movements in just one day, after their implants were activated," co-senior author Grégoire Courtine, a neuroscientist and professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), said in a statement.

The three men, aged 29 to 41, underwent intensive training to regain muscle mass and motor control after the initial implantation of the device.

"It was not perfect at the beginning, but they could train very early to have a more fluid gait," Dr. Jocelyne Bloch, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Lausanne University Hospital, told The Guardian.

They eventually graduated from lab testing and into using it in everyday life.

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After four months of training, one patient, Michel Roccati, was able to walk about just over half a mile outside the lab and without stopping, with only a frame for balance, AFP reported.

Mr Roccati can now stand continually for two whole hours, it has been reported. He was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2019 and lost both feeling and motor control in his legs.

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Like the other two participants, the nerves below his site of injury cannot communicate with the brain at all.

"It was a very emotional experience," Mr Roccati said of the first time the electrical pulses were activated and he took a step.

Now, the device is "a part of my daily life." At a news conference, Mr Roccati said he's regained some feeling in his legs; he can feel his body making contact with the ground and his muscles engaging when he walks.

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