Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Researchers at the Mayo Clinic and UCLA have co-authored a study that shows spinal cord stimulation and intense physical therapy have helped a man paralyzed in 2013 snowmobile crash regain his ability to stand and walk with assistance.

"What this is teaching us is that those networks of neurons below a spinal cord injury still can function after paralysis,” says Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator, neurosurgeon and director of Mayo Clinic's Neural Engineering Laboratories.

In the study, the man’s spinal cord was stimulated by an implanted electrode, enabling neurons to receive the signal that he wanted to stand or step. With the stimulator activated, the man was able to step with a front-wheeled walker while trainers provided occasional assistance. He made 113 rehabilitation visits to Mayo Clinic over a year and achieved milestones during individual sessions that included walking the length of a football field.

The researchers say they now need to understand how and why the therapy worked, and which patients will respond to it. The findings of the research were published in Nature Medicine.

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