Paralyzed Cyborg Rats Trained to Walk Again (Without Exo-Suits) by Re-Routing Spinal Pathways: Could Work on Humans
This is different from other robotically mediated paralysis therapy we saw recently involving brain-derived motor control. In that study, human patients wore a cranial device that tapped into their thoughts to control a robotic arm. In this case, the treatment is physiological, inducing dormant neurons to forge new connections and move limbs directly.
First, Courtine and colleagues injected the rats with a chemical cocktail that binds to dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin receptors on the spinal cord’s neurons. This replaced the neurotransmitters that would normally be released in healthy spinal pathways.
A few minutes after priming the neurons, the team stimulated the rats’ spinal cords through electrodes implanted into the spinal canal. This sent electrical signals to the roused neurons. Then the rats needed to be trained to use their limbs again. Within a week of their injuries, the rats were on treadmills, forging new neural connections.
(via Video: After Robot-Assisted Rehab and a Dose of Chemicals, Paralyzed Rats Walk Again | Popular Science)