In 2006, Rob Summers got hit by a car. He was 20 years old, paralysed from the chest down, and told he would never walk again. If you were one of the people who told him that, you were wrong.
During the three years after the accident, Summers underwent intensive physical therapy—but his condition stayed the same. His doctors decided to try something different. In 2009, they implanted an electrical stimulator in his spinal cord, hoping it would wake up his damaged nervous system. It did. After a few days, Summers was able to stand without help. Within months, and he could move his toes, knees and hips. He even took a few steps on a treadmill.
Summers' case is being published Friday in The Lancet, a journal funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It's true, Summers can't stand on his own when the stimulator isn't turned on—he typically gets around in a wheelchair—but researchers are still calling the treatment, epidural stimulation, a "breakthrough." It's progress that's never been seen before in someone with such a complete spinal cord injury. [Yahoo! AP]
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