Reawakening Limbs After Years of Paralysis

17:29 minutes

Reporting in the journal Brain, researchers write of reawakening the legs of four men paralyzed from the waist down. They did so by implanting electronic devices in the men’s spines. The devices send out electrical stimulation that re-trains the nerves to listen more carefully for signals, allowing voluntary movements after years of paralysis. Study author Susan Harkema of the University of Louisville and Roderic Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Bioimaging and Bioengineering, discuss the device and the path towards commercially available treatments.

Segment Guests

Susan Harkema

Susan Harkema is research director of the Frazier Rehab Institute at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky.

Roderic Pettigrew

Roderic Pettigrew is the director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.