paraplegic walking again

The winner of Physics World IOP Publishing, named researchers in Switzerland who developed technology to show paraplegics walking again. Robotics and AI are disruptions. An area in turbocharger mode is the vision that paraplegics can move again. The deaf can hear. The mute talk. Some have a vision that the blind can see. The key components are:

  • Capture brain signals.
  • Interpret those signals
  • Use the signals to provide motion, sound or vision.

This is not 5 or 10 years away – it is happening today although widespread use could be more than 5 years away

From EPFL Jan 2024 Methods for bypassing and treating spinal cord injury (EPFL News Release)

A Swiss–French team led by Grégoire Courtine at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Jocelyne Bloch at Lausanne University Hospital and EPFL and Guillaume Charvet at CEA-Leti won the Physics World 2023 Breakthrough of the Year. The innovation is development of a digital bridge that restores communication between the brain and spinal cord. When tested on a man with paralysis, the system enabled him to stand and walk naturally.

A video of a Parkinson’s patient went viral in early November 2023. Marc, 62, was able to walk almost normally again, rather than “freezing” at every foot step thanks to a neural implant.

A few months earlier, a man who’d been left paralyzed by an accident regained the ability to move his legs again using only his thought commands. The secret in both these cases is a system of flexible electrodes implanted directly on the patients’ spinal cords. These implants relay brain signals across the injured area and onto the patients’ limbs.

Researchers Focused on Paraplegics Walking Again

Institution/CompanyCountryResearch StageYears since startWebsiteVideo
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)USAPreclinical (animal testing)20 Stemcell UCLA
Stanford UniversityUSAPreclinical (animal testing)15 Stanford University
University of PittsburghUSAPreclinical (animal testing)10 Pitt Uni
Heidelberg UniversityGermanyPreclinical (animal testing)12 University of Heldelberg
Karolinska InstitutetSwedenPreclinical (animal testing)8 Ki.Se
NeuroRestore™ by Onward RehabilitationUSAClinical trials (Phase 1/2)5onwd
BIONICSwitzerlandClinical trials (Phase 1/2)8
Epigenomics AGGermanyClinical trials (Phase 1)
CaltechUSAEarly research (proof-of-concept)3Caltechn
Mayo ClinicUSAEarly research (proof-of-concept)2 MayoClinic
NeuralinkUSAClinical Trials human5 Neuralink
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)SwitzerlandClinical Trials10
ParadromicsUSAPre-Clinical Trials8 (2015) Paradromics.com
Data sourced from Google Bard and other source articles. This is not an exhaustive list. The field of spinal cord regeneration is rapidly evolving. The stage of research and years since starting are approximate and may not be entirely accurate. It is recommended to visit the websites listed for the latest information.
Some have videos.


New Scientist YouTube


Neuralink, one of Elon Musk’s companies, moved to human clinical trials in September 2023. Candidates will have cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neuralink includes robotic surgery to implant a 1,024 node interface into the brain. Hand surgery is not precise enough. Once implanted, the system provides gigabit communication with external devices. The nodes are smaller than human hair, hence the robotic approach. In contrast, EPFL uses just 64 nodes.

Neuralink initial aim is to build devices designed to help people who have paralysis. The treatment of a range of neurological disorders is to restore sensory and movement function. Longterm, Neuralink has stated the goal to expand the product into the general population.

The brain-computer interface (BCI) implant is in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move. First focus is to control their thoughts. Subsequent goals are to interface a unit into the spinal column, down from the break for para and quadriplegic people.

First Human Implant


Based out of Austin, Paradromics is working on a novel device called the Connexus Direct Data Interface. Like neurolink, it is many tiny electrodes implanted directly into the brain tissue. The implant records and translates neural signals, which are sent to external devices via a transceiver installed under the skin in the chest. They expect a 10-year life of the device that can have up to 1600 direct neuron connections.

Their systems might be available after 2028.

More Reading

  1. Lorach, H., Galvez, A., Spagnolo, V. et al. Walking naturally after spinal cord injury using a brain–spine interface. Nature618, 126–133 (2023).
  2. Rowald, A., Komi, S., Demesmaeker, R. et al. Activity-dependent spinal cord neuromodulation rapidly restores trunk and leg motor functions after complete paralysis. Nat Med 28, 260–271 (2022).
  3. Landmark trial aims to help people with spinal cord injury walk again 2021
  4. New neurological target to help people walk again after a spinal cord injury. 2023 Medical Express
  5. Spinal implants let three people who were paralysed walk with support 2022 New Scientist

Brain Implants

Here is a list of implants – and this will increase rapidly

Company NameWebsiteImplant TypeCommercialization PhaseSpecial Application
NeuroPace® SystemApproved (FDA)Epilepsy (closed-loop stimulation for seizure control)
Medtronic (Deep Brain Stimulation)Approved (FDA)Movement disorders (Parkinson’s, dystonia, essential tremor)
Boston Scientific Genus DBS systemApproved (FDA)Movement disorders (Parkinson’s, dystonia, tremor)
Abbott Brain Stimulation (DBS)Approved (FDA)Movement disorders (Parkinson’s, dystonia, tremor)
NeuroSky Mobile HeadsetAvailableBrain-computer interface (BCI) for cognitive training and gaming
Emotiv Mobile EEG HeadsetAvailableBCI for emotional recognition, cognitive training, and research
NextMind EEG Neuro-InterfaceEarly developmentBCI for hands-free computer control and augmented reality
Synchron Brain-Computer InterfaceInvestigational (Phase II clinical trial)BCI for paralysis restoration and communication
Neuralink Neural InterfaceEarly developmentBCI for various applications, including paralysis restoration, cognitive enhancement, and communication
Kernel Flow BCI PlatformResearch and developmentBCI for sensory restoration (vision) and cognitive enhancement
Sourced using Jan 2024