(The Washington Post) – In the 1990s, physiologist Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton met Christopher Reeve at a science convention. It was a few years after the actor best known for playing Superman had been severely injured during a horse riding competition, and Edgerton saw before him America’s icon of invincibility confined to a wheelchair.
“It’s urgent,” Reeve told him. “Don’t just come into the lab and think of it as another day of research. Every day for us is urgent.’”
Few scientists understand this better than Edgerton. For nearly 40 years, he has been studying how neural networks in the spinal cord can regain voluntary control of movement after paralysis. Now, he and a team of scientists at UCLA have developed a treatment procedure that could perhaps change the lives of paraplegics.
After four weeks of noninvasive electrical spinal cord stimulation, five men who are completely paralyzed in their lower body were able to move their legs again after years of immobility.