Paralyzed Man Walks for The First Time in 12 Years Thanks to Spine and Brain Implants

(Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Gert-Jan Oskam from the Netherlands was paralyzed 12 years ago in a biking accident in China. Oskam was paralyzed from the waist down when he broke his neck. Thanks to break-through innovation, at age 40 he walks again.

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People reported that the technology consists of brain implants, spinal implants, and a backpack style processing unit. The pieces work together to connect signals from the brain to the spinal cord and from there to the muscles, eventually re-establishing control for Oskam.

Paralyzed Man Walks for The First Time in 12 Years Thanks to Spine and Brain Implants

The implants were developed in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology by Dr Grégiore Courtine and his colleagues. The issue of paralysis occurs when communication between the brain and spinal cord is disturbed. Dr Courtine sought to overcome this exact issue with the expiremental device. He said the implants can: “capture the thoughts of Gert-Jan and translate those thoughts into stimulation of the spinal cord to re-establish voluntary leg movements.”

After many practice runs, Oskam has successfully used the implants to walk for 100 meters and has stood up for multiple minutes without assistance from others.

Gert-Jan commented saying: “A few months ago, I was able for the first time after 10 years, to stand up and have a beer with my friends. That was pretty cool. I want to use it in my daily life.” He is well on his way there. The practice has paid off and has led both the patient and the doctors to believe that with the aid of the device, nerves will be stimulated and grow back in place. If the nerves were to grow back, the brain could potentially be able to communicate with the body, bypassing the implants altogether.

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