Early Promise for a New Paralysis Treatment

By Michelle Cortez

Four months ago, Roger, a 55-year-old construction worker from Mooresville, N.C., fell out of a deer stand and was left with a damaged spinal cord and no sensation from the middle of his chest down. Patients with his condition typically have less than a 1-in-20 chance of recovering any feeling in or control over the paralyzed areas. A new kind of implant aims to change that.

At Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, Roger, who doesn’t want to disclose his last name to protect his privacy, allowed doctors to perform an experimental procedure that involved cutting directly into his spinal cord to insert a sort of bridge for surviving nerve cells. Within a month, he regained feeling in his abdomen, some feeling in his legs, and some bladder control. While he’s not walking, he says he’s determined to get there and is getting leg braces so he can move with a walker.


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