Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Walking again after spinal injury

In the lab, rats with severe spinal cord injury are learning to walk—and run—again.
Last June in the journal Science, Grégoire Courtine, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), reported that rats in his lab are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they were sprinting, climbing up stairs, and avoiding obstacles after a couple of weeks of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electricalchemical stimulation.

Now, at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, Courtine describes this research in detail and the next steps towards clinical trials to be done in Switzerland. Courtine holds the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) Chair in Spinal Cord Repair at EPFL. At AAAS, in a symposium titled, “Engineering the Nervous System: Solutions to Restore Sight, Hearing, and Mobility,” he outlines the range of neuroprosthetic technologies developed in his lab, which aim to restore voluntary control of locomotion after severe spinal cord injury.
He explains how he and his colleagues are interfacing the central nervous system with stretchable spinal electrode arrays controlled with smart stimulation algorithms – combined with novel robotic rehabilitation – and shows videos of completely paralyzed rats voluntarily moving after only weeks of treatment.

Courtine expects to begin clinical trials in human patients within the next two years. At AAAS, he presents the 9 million euro European project NeuWalk (, an effort dedicated to the transfer of technology from rats over to humans with spinal cord damage through development of effective neuroprosthetic systems for rehabilitation. The first phase of clinical studies will be conducted at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), which has developed extensive expertise in the electrical-chemical stimulation of the human spinal cord.

The second phase will take place at the newly planned EPFL Valais Wallis academic cluster in Valais, Switzerland, to be inaugurated in 2015. This health and biotechnology center in Valais will focus on new treatments and rehabilitation for people with physical disabilities.

This research program has the potential to develop effective treatment paradigms for rehabilitating individuals with severe spinal cord injury, for whom current rehabilitative treatments do not restore the ability to stand or walk.

Researcher Contact: Professor Grégoire Courtine
International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) Chair in Spinal Cord Repair
Press Kit:
About EPFL:
With over 350 laboratories and research groups on campus, EPFL is one of Europe’s most innovative and productive scientific institutions. Ranked top 3 in Europe and top 20 worldwide in many scientific rankings, EPFL has attracted the best researchers in their fields. The institute’s unique structure fosters trans-disciplinary research and promotes partnerships with other institutions. It continuously combines fundamental research and engineering.
Médiacom - Hillary Sanctuary
CM 1 364 (Bâtiment CM)
Station 10
CH - 1015 Lausanne
Téléphone : +4121 693 70 22
Mobile : +4179 703 48 09
Fax: +4121 693 30 91

Hillary Sanctuary | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Bern’s surgical procedure for brain tumours a world leader
03.11.2015 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Siemens Healthcare introduces first Twin Robotic X-Ray system
29.10.2015 | Siemens AG

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens to supply 126 megawatts to onshore wind power plants in Scotland

27.11.2015 | Press release

Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease

27.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>