Neuroscience allows paralysed man to walk again after 12 years

Gert-Jan Oskam has been learning to walk again

Neuroscience allows paralysed man to walk again after 12 years Credit: Twitter/ Enrique Coperías

Scientists and surgeons in Switzerland have used a mix of wireless technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing to re-establish the link between the brain and spine of a man who damaged his spinal cord in a cycling accident 12 years ago.

Gert-Jan Oskam, who was injured while working in China back in 2011, admitted disappointment when doctors in his home nation of The Netherlands said they couldn’t help him.

It took 12 years to get to the point where doctors could help Mr Oskam, with Sky News reporting Twitter:

“Neuroscientists and neurosurgeons have re-established communication between the brain & spinal cord allowing a paralysed person to walk again.”

It was reported by Sky News that the technology consists of implants in the brain and spinal cord that communicate wirelessly. Artificial Intelligence technology is used to unscramble complex brain signals, and electrical impulses are sent to the legs.

The incredible breakthrough saw almost immediate improvements in Mr Oskam’s bodily function. He was quickly able to control his hips again and through training has been able to walk as well as navigate stairs and ramps.

The technology was developed by the French Atomic Energy Commission and the procedure and subsequent rehabilitation of Mr Oskam were carried out by neuroscientists and neurosurgeons at  Switzerland’s Lausanne University Hospital and the University of Lausanne, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.

The adaptive AI technology actually promotes the growth of new nerve connections, which means that the patient was able to rediscover some of his lost movement, even when the ‘neural bridge’ was switched off.

In what is seen as a major breakthrough and one which can help the many spinal injury sufferers around the world, the roll-out and continued development of this technology deserves plaudits as the lives of paralysed people are set to be vastly improved.

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Written by

David Laycock

Dave Laycock has always written. Poems, songs, essays, academic papers as well as newspaper articles; the written word has always held a great fascination for him and he is never happier than when being creative. From a musical background, Dave has travelled the world performing and also examining for a British music exam board. He also writes, produces and performs and records music. All this aside, he is currently fully focussed on his journalism and can’t wait to share more stories from around the world and beyond.