A man paralyzed from the waist down is wiggling his toes.
Movement is one thing that the majority of people seem to take for granted every day. Sure there is a plentiful amount of reasons for one to be grateful, such as being happy, receiving that promotion, or scoring a date with your crush. But what about your ability to move your arms, adjust your legs, snap your fingers, or wiggle your toes? These things are so common place to most of us that we rarely give these gifts a second-thought. Sadly, there are individuals in the world who do not have the ability to move their limbs due to unfortunate circumstances. These are the people that never take what they have for granted and these are the people who may be fortunate enough to gain movement through advancements in modern technology.
Three years ago, Claudia Angeli from the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center and her team were able help a man paralyzed from the neck down experience movement through sending electricity through the man’s spinal cord (by having a device surgically implanted into the lower back). The man was able to wiggle his toes and stand. Now in the present, this team’s study has proven to be far from a fluke. Angeli and her colleagues have implemented the same electrical technique to three other paralyzed men and they all were able to demonstrate a certain amount of movement. Besides from providing movement to four different cases of paralyzed individuals, the true benchmark for this study is that electricity has been able to allow these patients to move parts of their limbs that experts theorized would never be able to move.
While this study has received praise, experts have warned that this treatment should not be considered a cure, since the movement is only temporary. But the mere possibility that a paralyzed individual could actually have a chance to move is certainly a notion to behold. While this may be the first baby-step in the right direction of research, the joy that Angeli and her team provide is astounding. One of the handicapped individuals, Dustin Shillcox, experienced a horrific car crash in 2010 that left him paralyzed. But the hope that he felt when the electrical device implanted in him allowed him to move made him experience a great deal of emotion, giving him the chance to believe that moving again would be a very plausible future. Even though this not an immediate cure, let’s keep our fingers crossed that we may live to see the handicapped receive the gift of movement.