(CNN) — New research reveals how a medical device helped one man with paralysis walk naturally again, more than a decade after an injury.
Dr. Grégoire Courtine and colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne developed and implanted a “brain-spine interface” that creates a direct neurological link between the brain and spinal cord. Implants in the brain track intentions for movement, which are wirelessly transferred to a processing unit that a person wears externally, like a backpack. The intentions are translated into commands that the processing unit sends back through the second implant to stimulate muscles.
The research findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, outline successful outcomes for one study participant from the Netherlands.
Gert-Jan Oskam, 40, was left paralyzed after a motorbike accident in China more than a decade ago. His legs were impaired, as well as his arms and trunk.
“My wish was to walk again, and I believed it was possible,” Oskam said at a briefing with journalists this week. “I tried many things before, and now I have to learn how to walk normal again, like natural, because this is how the system works.”
Oskam said he can walk at least 100 meters (about 330 feet), depending on the day, and stand without using his hands for a few minutes. He said it’s useful in his daily life, like when he recently had something to paint but had no one to help, so he stood and did it himself.