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    Man from the Netherlands, who was paralyzed, walks again through the use of his thoughts and implants.

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    Researchers have announced that a man who has been paralysed for more than a decade has regained the ability to walk again using only his thoughts. The 40-year-old Dutchman, known only as Gert-Jan, had two implants that restored communication between his brain and spinal cord. Using a new system, he can now walk “naturally,” take on difficult terrain and climb stairs. This is thanks to a “digital bridge” between the two implants. The latest research combines the spinal implant with a brain-computer interface that is implanted above the part of the brain that controls leg movement.

    The interface uses algorithms based on artificial intelligence methods to decode brain recordings in real time. This allows the device to work out how the patient wants to move their legs at any moment. The data is transmitted to the spinal cord implant via a portable device that fits into a walker or backpack, allowing patients to get around without help from others.

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    Previous patients walked with a lot of effort, but now one just needs to think about walking to take a step. Following six months of training, Gert-Jan recovered some sensory perception and motor skills that he had lost in the accident. He was even able to walk with crutches when the “digital bridge” was turned off.

    This advance is the result of more than a decade of work by a team of researchers in France and Switzerland. However, it will take many more years of research before this technology can be available to paralysed people around the world. The team is already preparing a trial to study whether this technology can restore function in arms and hands and hope it could apply to other problems such as paralysis caused by stroke.

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