Scientific breakthrough - Glimmer of hope for many

THERE are unfortunately far too many times when it is easier to despair of humankind, and our seemingly endless capacity to destroy what is good and beautiful; to plumb new depths of depravity; indeed to threaten our very existence as a species by refusing to act on global warming.

And then there is the inspirational ingenuity from which time breaks through and shines light and hope where otherwise rests resignation, if not despair.

Yesterday was one such moment, when breakthrough technological innovation opened the possibility that in the not-too-distant future, paraplegics can hope to walk again.

The breakthrough, reported in the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, is the result of research by Dr An Do and Dr Zoran Nenadic of the University of California at Irvine.

They have achieved what previously would have been considered a miracle, by developing a “neural bypass” system which has allowed a paralysed man walk again without robotic limbs.

It is a truly remarkable achievement, one which brings immense hope for very many people who have had their lives transformed by spinal cord injury.

Of course, while the breakthrough is in its early stages, the realisation that even after years of paralysis the brain can still generate waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking will be a source of great hope and encouragement.


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