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This Miracle Treatment Is Helping Paralyzed People Walk Again


An innovative idea developed by researchers is truly making the impossible happen. With a well-crafted stimulator implanted over the spinal cord, this treatment is helping paralyzed people actually walk again.

Too Tough To Quit

Back in 2014, Kelly Thomas was in a terrible car accident where she lost the use of her legs. Doctors said that she would never walk again––a diagnosis she refused to accept. Kelly boldly told her neurosurgeon that she would stand and walk on her own two feet again one day. “Paralysis isn’t in my dictionary,” she mentioned.

Wayne Drash/CNN

Her journey to recovery didn’t come without its share of tears and frustrations. Kelly knew that she would have to “cowboy up,” as she put it, and work towards walking again. Then she heard about a special program in Louisville, KY that turned out to be the answer to her prayers.

Triggering The Spinal Cord

Workers at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville were working on a new treatment for paralysis. Using an epidural stimulator over a part of the spinal cord, researchers have found that the device enables neurons below their injuries to receive signals the brain used to send. Over the course of several years, the center’s study on spinal cord injuries has included 14 people, with Kelly being one.

Wayne Drash/CNN

With this specific treatment, Kelly has been able to start walking again with the aid of a walker. She also goes through extensive physical therapy to continue to progress. Though her steps may be a little slower, the fact that she’s even moving again is a miracle. And it’s thanks to the work at the University of Louisville.

Getting Results

In the latest study with Kelly and three others, all four participants could stand up on their own with the stimulator. Two were able to walk over the ground, including Kelly.  The other patient is paralyzed from his neck down, with no ability to move his arms without the stimulator. These results prove that this device is working, and it could possibly have a huge impact on others moving forward.

Wayne Drash/CNN

Susan Harkema, one of the lead researchers in the study, is very optimistic about the stimulator and the team’s research. “This should change our thinking about people with paralysis,” she said. “It’s phenomenal. This new knowledge is giving us the tools to develop new strategies and tools for recovery in people with chronic spinal injuries.”

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