Paralyzed man walks again using implants connecting brain with spinal cord

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Gert-Jan Oskam’s legs were paralyzed more than a decade ago. A new brain-spine interface is helping him walk again. A 40-year-old man whose legs were paralyzed in a cycling accident 12 years ago can walk again thanks to implants in his brain and spinal cord.

The brain-spine interface (BSI) has remained stable for a year, allowing Gert-Jan Oskam to stand, walk, climb stairs and traverse complex terrains, according to

a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature . Oskam even regains some control over his legs when the BSI is turned off. “My wish was to walk again and I believed it was possible,” Oskam said during a news briefing.

Oskam was in the accident in China and thought he would be able to get the help he needed when he got home to the Netherlands, but the technology wasn’t advanced enough for it at the time, Oskam said. Oskam previously participated in a trial by Grégoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who also worked on the new research, according to the study authors. In 2018, Courtine’s team found that technology can stimulate the lower spine and help people with spinal-cord injuries walk again. After three years, Oskam’s improvements plateaued.

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