TECH

Scientists Find Way To Make Paralysed Rats Walk Again

29/09/2014 11:55 BST | Updated 29/09/2014 11:59 BST

Scientists have found a way to make completely paralysed rats walk again using a form of electrical stimulation.

The revelation is just one part of a wider project, NEUWalk, which has been set up by scientists at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

So how are they able to make a paralysed animal walk again? The tests were carried out on rats which had their spinal cord's severed at the right point so as to remove all lower limb function.

neuwalk

From this point they were able to regain control of the lower limbs by applying specific electrical signals which would then mimic the brain's instructions.

Not only were the scientists able to move the rat's lower legs but they were able to tailor the signals to such a fine degree that they could even allow the rat to adjust for different surfaces and steps.

The entire procedure is based on a very simple principle: the body needs electricity to move. By taking this one premise, they set about learning the electrical impulses that a rat's brain sends to its body to make it walk.

After the successful trials (which you can see above) the team are now so confident in the procedure that they'll be planning to start human trials as early as 2015.