If a spinal cord can't get a signal to the brain, is walking still possible?
Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D., said yes -- before anyone would believe it. And his years of research have led to a remarkable discovery: The spinal cord, much like the brain, can learn.
In his research, people who had been completely paralyzed were able to move their legs voluntarily after receiving a new noninvasive procedure that stimulates the spinal cord. A severed spinal cord was able to detect sensory information and send out signals to control movement.
Building on this research opens new treatment possibilities for people living with paralysis.
Learn more from Dr. Edgerton about what his discoveries mean for patients and for scientists who are looking at the spine in a whole new way -- seeing that injured spinal cords are resilient. They can do what many thought was impossible. It's a whole new chapter in the history of the spinal cord.
Dr. Edgerton is currently the Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and a Distinguished Professor of the Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery. He has been teaching and conducting research at UCLA for over 40 years. His research is focused on how the neural networks in the lumbar spinal cord of mammals, including humans, regain control of standing, stepping and voluntary control of fine movements after paralysis, and how can these motor functions be modified by chronically imposing activity-dependent interventions after spinal cord injury.