Four people with paraplegia were recently implanted with electrodes in their lower backs. They all regained movement below their injuries, and two walked again. This week Nicola Davis investigates this technique – epidural stimulation – and other approaches for treating spinal cord injuries
Jeff Marquis was spending his day off work on his bike on a mountain trail in Montana. After he landed a jump badly, he realised he could no longer move his legs. He was eventually diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, and doctors told him that he would never walk again.
Fast-forward to 2018, and Marquis is now taking steps for himself again thanks to a groundbreaking trial that implanted an array of electrodes in his lower back. Marquis and three other participants underwent rigorous physiotherapy to relearn how to command their legs to walk. So does this technique, known as epidural stimulation, spell the beginning of the end for paralysis? And what are the other avenues of research that scientists believe might get people back on their feet?