At left, Rob Summers smiles in his wheelchair; at right, he reaches a standing position, supplying the muscular push himself. (AFP/Getty Images)
Small steps for paralyzed man, giant leaps for treating spinal cord injuries
A device helps a man paralyzed from the waist down make an 'unprecedented' recovery, taking steps on a treadmill and regaining other key functions. The treatment could potentially allow 10% to 15% of people with spinal cord injuries to regain some use of their legs.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
May 20, 2011
A 25-year-old Los Angeles man paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a car in 2006 has regained the ability to stand, take steps on a treadmill and move his hips, knees, ankles and toes voluntarily as a result of an experimental treatment developed at UCLA and the University of Louisville.
Rob Summers has also regained some bladder and sexual function after intensive rehabilitation and two years of electrical stimulation to his damaged spinal cord with a device normally used for pain relief, researchers reported Thursday.
His recovery "remains unprecedented in spinal cord injury patients," who until now have faced a lifetime of paralysis, researchers from the University of Zurich wrote in an editorial accompanying the report in the journal Lancet. "We are entering a new era when the time has come for spinal-cord-injured patients to move."
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