Previously paralyzed rats with severe spinal injuries gained the ability to walk, sprinting and climbing up stairs, following a new treatment and therapy. This brings hopes to paralyzed patients. Image EPFL/Grégoire Courtine
Researchers at the EPFL have developed a new method of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation.
The new treatment can help treat paralysis by encouraging the brain to re-wire some of its neural networks to different tasks.
“After a couple of weeks of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation, our rats are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they are soon sprinting, climbing up stairs and avoiding obstacles when stimulated,” explains Courtine, who holds the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) Chair in Spinal Cord Repair at EPFL.
“This is the world-cup of neurorehabilitation,” exclaims Courtine. “Our rats have become athletes when just weeks before they were completely paralyzed. I am talking about 100% recuperation of voluntary movement.”