• Gert-Jan Oskam got paralyzed following a cycling accident 12 years ago
  • He can now stand, walk and climb stairs with the help of brain-spine interface
  • The technology was developed by a multinational research team of neurosurgeons and neuroscientists

A 40-year-old man who lost the ability to walk following a cycling accident 12 years ago has regained his mobility with the help of implants in his brain and spinal cord.

According to a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Gert-Jan Oskam can now stand, walk and climb stairs, thanks to the brain-spine interface (BSI). The technology was developed by a multinational research team of neurosurgeons and neuroscientists.

Oskam suffered from tetraplegia — the inability to move lower and upper limbs — following the accident in China.

"My wish was to walk again, and I believed it was possible," Oskam said at a briefing with journalists this week, CNN reported. "I tried many things before, and now I have to learn how to walk normal again, like natural, because this is how the system works."

Grégoire Courtine and his co-workers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne were responsible for the development and implementation of the brain-spine interface.

With the help of this technology, Oskam can not only stand and walk but is also able to move through complex terrains. When the BSI is turned off, he still is able to control his legs.

As part of the latest study, Oskam participated in 40 sessions of neurorehabilitation that helped restore communication between his brain and spinal cord with a digital bridge.

"We've captured the thoughts of Gert-Jan, and translated these thoughts into a stimulation of the spinal cord to re-establish voluntary movement," Courtine said, as per the New York Times.

"Now, I can just do what I want, and when I decide to make a step, the stimulation will kick in," he also said, according to CNN.

Neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch explained that the digital bridge requires two types of electronic implants.

"We have implanted WIMAGINE devices above the region of the brain that is responsible for controlling leg movements," she said, as reported by Neuroscience News.

"These devices developed by the CEA allows to decode the electrical signals generated by the brain when we think about walking. We also positioned a neurostimulator connected to an electrode array over the region of the spinal cord that controls leg movement," Bloch added.

Meanwhile, Guillaume Charvet, head of the BCI program at CEA, said "algorithms based on adaptive artificial intelligence methods" allowed movement intentions to be "decoded in real-time from brain recordings," according to the publication.

Bloch and Courtine said that considering the positive result for the digital bridge, which has been tested in only one person so far, a similar strategy could be used to restore arm and hand functions. The BCI could likely also benefit those who get paralyzed due to a stroke.

This is a representational image. Tom Dulat/Getty Images