Study Identifies Neurons That Restore Walking After Paralysis

    Photo: SPL [via Nature]

    The Facts

    • Following a study that saw nine paralyzed patients walk again after prolonged electrical stimulation to injured regions of the spine, researchers have identified neurons that could help restore the ability to walk in people suffering from paralysis.

    • All recipients of the treatment — which included intense physical therapy as well as targeted electrical stimulation — had experienced damage to their spinal cord resulting in severe or complete paralysis. They all saw immediate improvements, which continued over the five months of treatment.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    While still in the early stages of study, the findings of this research provide groundbreaking insights into the functioning of neurons in the lumbar spine. These results are a significant step forward in helping the paralyzed walk again.

    Narrative B

    As groundbreaking as it is to help people walk again, it's often not the only priority for those suffering from spinal cord injuries. Quality of life can be vastly improved by the treatment of other associated problems. This research offers more broadly applicable conclusions that could help improve other functions, and those minor accomplishments shouldn't be overlooked.

    Narrative C

    This research shouldn't be celebrated as its conclusions are based on the abuse of animals. Crushing mice's spines to intentionally paralyze them was unnecessary, especially considering that the physiological differences between species mean mice are poor surrogates for humans.

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