Kent Stephenson (third from the right in the picture) was paralyzed in a motocross accident in 2009. He was told he would never walk again. Thanks to the procedure called epidural stimulation, he was able to stand at the altar on his wedding day and watch his bride walk down the aisle to meet him.
During his accident he fell 80 feet down while doing a jump trick. He has been paralyzed from the chest down ever since. He had an epidural stimulator implanted in his back four years after the accident. These devices send electrical currents into the spine to help bring back use of the paralyzed areas..
Kent says he feels “connected” again when the device is working. Stephenson participated in a study with the Christopher Reeve foundation. He used to be an active athlete before his wounds, now he is able to workout and hunt again.
He is the second of four men to participate in this study. Kent has gained back much of the same function as the first patient. The stimulator device and a special frame allowed him to stand and dance at his wedding. All of the men in the study can move, lift their legs, flex their ankles, and support their own weight on their legs.
Adding the device did not automatically restore the leg function. The four men had to move to Louisville for about two years for treatment and physical rehabilitation. The team conducting the study is currently looking for another group of four from 2,000 volunteers.
It’s too early to tell if everyone will have such success with the devices, but these results are definitely promising. They have also discovered it doesn’t take a high voltage signal to restore movement. Even just a little stimulation can help regain movement. This is a massive breakthrough. Hopefully this amazing technology can help more people!
Featured image Getty/Ilya S. Savenok.