A Cure for Paralysis: One Scientist's Prediction Delivers Mixed Results

10 years ago, physiologist Chet Moritz predicted there could be a cure for paralysis in as little as a decade. Was he right?


In 2009, Discover reported that University of Washington physiologist Chet Moritz had made serious strides toward curing paralysis. He and his colleagues figured out a way to record and transfer signals from a macaque’s brain to its paralyzed arm, bypassing its injured nerves, and allowing the monkey to control its limb once more.

Challenges remained, but Moritz told Discover he thought advances in these technologies could provide an answer to paralysis in as little as 10 years. Well, it’s 2019 — was he right?

Yes and no. Three different research groups have recently announced that they’ve achieved the first independent walking steps taken by patients with spinal cord injuries. But the groups, all unaffiliated with Moritz, didn’t do it his way.


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