E-stim breakthrough: paralyzed patient able to take steps
Rob Summers and his physicians said the success represents a major breakthrough in the field of paralysis. The treatment involved surgical implantation of a small strip of electrodes along Summers' lower spinal cord. This implant provides electrical signals to nerve cells in the leg that mimic what would normally be sent by the brain to stimulate movement.
Summers was injured in 2006, and the e-stimulation was implanted in 2009 after years of intense physical therapy. Although researchers cautioned that a cure is still a long way off and more studies are needed, they said the news gives hopes to the roughly 12,000 people who suffer a spinal cord injury annually in the U.S. Most, like Summers, are hurt in car accidents, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.