Paraplegic Woman Just Took Her Own First Steps

Kelly Thomas, a paraplegic woman, just took her first steps on her own, thanks to a spinal cord implant.

“I took maybe three or four steps in sequence,” she explained. “My face got hot and my eyes got teary and I was like, oh my God.”

Thomas was paralyzed and has been using a wheelchair after being involved in a car crash in 2014. However, thanks to a study at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville, she was able to get back on her feet.

Researchers gave epidural stimulations to four participants with traumatic, motor complete spinal cord injuries. Thomas was one of the two participants who were able to take steps, after attending daily rehab and locomotor training.

“The first day I took steps on my own was an emotional milestone in my recovery that I’ll never forget…” she said. “It’s amazing what the human body can accomplish with help from research and technology.”

Researchers believe this type of technology could eventually become a standard treatment to improve the quality of life of paraplegics and quadriplegics.

“What this means is that the spinal circuitry has a capacity to relearn how to walk in certain conditions,” said Susan Harkema, PhD.