Gait disturbance in individuals with spinal cord injury is attributed to the interruption of neural pathways from brain to the spinal locomotor center, whereas neural circuits locate below and above the lesion maintain their functions. An artificial connection that bridges the pathway has potential to ameliorate the functional loss.
A Japanese research group led by Shusaku Sasada, research fellow and Yukio Nishimura, associate professor of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Science has successfully made an artificial connection from the brain to the locomotion center in the spinal cord by bypassing with a computer interface. This allowed subjects to stimulate the spinal locomotion center using volitionally-controlled muscle activity and to control walking in legs. This result was published online in the Journal of Neuroscience on August 13, 2014.