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Breakthrough offers cautious hope for those with spinal cord injuries


Narrator:       This is Science Today. A significant milestone has been reached in the study of paralysis, thanks to a team of scientists at UCLA, the University of Louisville and the California Institute of Technology. UCLA's Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton says they used a technique called continued direct epidural stimulation to help a paraplegic man, who was aided by a supporting harness, stand up and make repeated steps for several minutes.

Edgerton:       Now, several minutes may not sound like a big deal, but several minutes of standing for an individual that has not stood for several years is quite important.

Narrator:       Epidural stimulation increased the excitability of sophisticated neural networks within the spinal cord. Edgerton says the spinal cord is actually quite plastic — meaning it can change.

Edgerton:       We think that it could help individuals with Parkinson's, it may help individuals with stroke. And based on what we've seen so far, we're very anxious to test this in these other experimental paradigms.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.