Patients with spinal cord injuries, whose recovery is not expected, finally have something to hope for.

Researchers from University of Toronto developed a new device that stimulates the muscles and helps in increasing walking abilities in those patients who suffered spinal cord injuries.
A process called functional electrical stimulation (FES) sends controlled bursts of electricity through the skin and into muscles. This way it helps improve walking skills.

The study included five patients who suffered spinal cord injuries from two to 24 years ago. They completed two to five sessions per week of FES therapy and showed great improvement. After practicing with physiotherapists, they managed to improve their step frequency, stride length and overall walking speed.

However, 10 weeks after treatment had finished, the patients' walking skills had decreased. The researchers are going to conduct a larger scale study and are hoping for a suitable functional electrical stimulator for this therapy in a few years time.