New Study Offers Hope for Paraplegics

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Proof that anything is possible: With a combination of electrical stimulation and stand and step training, four paralyzed patients with spinal cord injuries were able to move their legs, ankles, and toe muscles on their own, reports a new study in the journal Brain. [Tweet this stat!]

Patients received a spinal cord implant and a device that delivered electrical stimulation, which allowed them some control over their muscles when given audio cues or when they thought about moving. Right now, there aren’t many options available to rehabilitate people with spinal cord injuries. There aren't any that get you moving again on your own.

Besides being a huge breakthrough, and incredibly inspirational, this study speaks volumes about the importance about hope and perseverance. Researchers say that people’s ability to move improved over time when they continued therapy—patients reported being more stable, having more strength, stamina, and were less fatigued during activity the more they keep up with it.

But most striking was this: All of the people in this study hadn’t been able to move for at least two years—a looming timeframe for paraplegics, given that study author Susan Harkema, Ph.D. told The Wall Street Journal, "It's been a long-held belief by scientists and clinicians alike that if you have no ability to move after two years, there's not any possibility that you're going to be able to move.” What this study suggests: That’s not the case, Harkema added. 

What do you think about this news? Have you ever felt like a goal was completely unattainable? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.

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