Because of the violent impact, a car crash is one of the top causes of spinal cord injury (SCI), which can result in paralysis for many victims.
So far, SCI has been irreversible, but research by Swiss scientists has produced a spinal implant that enables a paralyzed person to walk again.
The mission of the spinal cord is to relay messages from the brain to other parts of the body. The spinal cord is very fragile and, if damaged, cannot repair itself. SCI usually occurs because of a violent blow, as from a car crash. If the injury occurs in the upper section of the spinal cord near the neck, the victim can suffer paralysis of both legs and arms. With lower back damage, paralysis is usually confined to the legs only.
Early in 2022, a BBC news story revealed that a patient with a severed spinal cord was able to walk again because of a spinal implant developed by researchers in Switzerland. This was a first in medical history. This man’s paralysis resulted from a motorcycle accident and, for five years, he had been unable to stand or walk. The electrical implant that was surgically attached to his spine changed all that.
The speed of this patient’s recovery even amazed the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery. To date, nine people have regained the ability to walk, thanks to the spinal implant. Currently, SCI treatment includes years of rehabilitation and staggering medical expense. However, scientists believe that the implant could eventually joint nerve regeneration as an effective treatment. Although this technology is not a cure for SCI, it represents a major step toward the goal of improving the quality of life for people who deal with paralysis.