Revolutionary Wireless Brain-Spine Interface: Propelling Paralysis Reversal Forward

Wireless Brain-Spine Interface Enables Paralysis Patient to Walk Again

Neuroscientists and neurosurgeons have created a wireless brain-spine interface that enables a paralyzed person to walk again naturally. The innovative technology, designed by EPFL/CHUV/UNIL and CEA/CHUGA/UGA researchers, comprises two electronic implants: one on the brain and another on the spinal cord. The implants work together to decode brain signals into leg muscle stimulation, resulting in natural movement.

The Digital Bridge

To establish the digital bridge, the researchers implanted WIMAGINE® devices into the region of Gert-Jan’s brain responsible for controlling leg movements. The devices decoded the electrical signals generated by Gert-Jan’s thinking, causing movement intentions to be converted into sequences of electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. The resulting activation of leg muscles enabled Gert-Jan to stand, walk, climb stairs, and even traverse complex terrains. The implanted neurostimulator was connected to an electrode array over the region of the spinal cord that controls leg movement. The digital bridge operates wirelessly, allowing Gert-Jan to move around independently.

Recovery of Neurological Functions

When Gert-Jan was rehabilitated with the digital bridge, he recovered neurological functions he had lost since his accident. Even when the digital bridge was switched off, Gert-Jan still had remarkable improvements in sensory perceptions and motor skills. Researchers believe that new nerve connections developed during the digital repair of the spinal cord.

Possible Future Applications

At this stage, the digital bridge has only been tested in one person. However, Professor Jocelyne Bloch and Professor Grégoire Courtine say that a similar strategy could be used to restore arm and hand functions in the future. The digital bridge could also be applied to other clinical indications, such as paralysis due to stroke.

Commercializing the Technology

ONWARD Medical, in partnership with CEA and EPFL, plans to develop a commercial version of the digital bridge. The goal is to make the technology available worldwide. The European Commission is providing financial assistance for this project through its European Innovation Council.

Funding and Acknowledgments

This work is supported by the Defitech Foundation, Rolex Award for Enterprise, International Foundation for Research in Paraplegia, Translational Medical Research Award 2021 from the Leenaards Foundation, Pictet Group Charitable Foundation, ONWARD medical, Medtronic, and the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Centre of Competence in Research in Robotics.


The wireless brain-spine interface has the potential to revolutionize treatment for paralysis patients. Through digital bridge technology, Doctor Jocelyne Bloch and Professor Grégoire Courtine have restored the communication between the brain and spine, restoring natural movement to paralyzed individuals. With continued research, this technology could have wide-ranging applications in neurorehabilitation, improving the lives of many patients worldwide.

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