After a bicycle accident that left him paralyzed, Gert-Jan Oskam has regained his mobility thanks to a brain and spinal cord transplant connected to the nerves in his legs.
Twelve years ago, Oskam’s spinal cord was damaged after the accident, damaging his neck and leaving his legs and arms completely paralyzed.
The transplant is the result of pioneering research by Swiss scientists, and is called a «brain-spinal cord interface», and has been a game changer for Oskam.
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Oskam was one of many participants in the trial of the transplant, a technology that stimulates the lower spine with electrical pulses to make him walk again.
How does the transplant work?
The transplant is two disc-shaped implants inserted into his skull so that two grids of 64 electrodes rest against the membrane covering the brain.
The implants work when Oskam thinks about walking, so that it detects electrical activity in the cortex, the outer layer of his brain, and transmits it wirelessly to a computer that Oskam carries in his backpack to generate spinal pulses.