We’ve been hear a lot lately about exoskeletons that are giving paraplegic people a new lease on life and as great as that is it is still a mechanical solution.
Today we hear news that Rob Summers, a 25 year old man who was paralyzed from the chest down after being hit by a speeding car, has been part of an incredible groundbreaking medical procedure than allows him to now stand and walk.
The procedure, which was developed by neuroscientists at the University of Louisville, UCLA, and CalTech, involves a spinal implant that replicates the electric signals that the brain usually sends to coordinate movement.
Prior to the implant operation though Summers had to take part in an extreme regime of what is called Locomotor Training, a type of that involved Summers being suspended over a treadmill and assisted by specialists where an individual’s spinal cord neural networks are retrained to produce the muscle movements needed to stand and walk.
Today Rob Summers can now reach a standing position under his own power and remain standing, bearing his own weight, for up to four minutes. With the support of a harness and some therapeutic assistance he can make repeated stepping motions on the treadmill. On top of that, and just as incredible, he can move his toes, ankles, knees, and hips under his own power and on command.