The spinal cord is one of the most crucial parts of the body. It serves as a bridge, sending signals from the brain to almost every part of the body. A severely damaged spinal cord can incapacitate one’s ability to move freely.

At 28-years-old, Andrew Meas was involved in a motorcycle accident. Suffering from complete Spinal Cord Injury and a broken neck, Meas was rendered paralyzed from the waist down. Even after 21 months of rehabilitation, he showed no sign of improvement.

After nearly two years of paralysis and no recovery, most doctors would consider Meas’ condition to be permanent.

But with the help of new technology, Meas’ lower limbs are gaining voluntary control.

Paralyzed man regains ability to stand and move

Four years after his accident, Meas enrolled in a clinical trial that used ‘spinal cord epidural stimulation’ (scES) to treat patients with damaged spinal cords. Researchers used a device to send electrical signals to motor neurons.

According to the studies posted in Scientific Reports, a device was implanted over the patient's spinal cord. The device sent electrical stimulation to the lower region of the spine during physical therapy.

Within two years of physical therapy using scES, Meas regained his ability to stand and move his legs and hips, even without the scES device.

Technology brings hope for paralyzed patients

The authors of the study described Meas’ recovery as unexpected and shocking.

One of the first researchers of the study, Enrico Rejc, stated that the new data combats the common belief that after one year of injury a patient is considered chronic and will most likely not improve. The study’s results prove that the human nervous system is far more capable of recovery than expected.

According to Susan Harkema, senior researcher of the experiment, control of movement can be restored through ‘activity-dependent plasticity’ even after years of paralysis. Meas’ ability to use his legs without the scES device shows that it is possible for paralysis patients to fully recover without remaining dependent on mechanical aid.

Professor at Newcastle University, Andre Jackson, stated that he was excited about the study's findings. The results from the study give hope of the lasting benefits of stimulation therapy. The shocking recovery of Meas indicates that it is possible for the spinal cord to recover after traumatic injury and even after complete spinal cord injury.