Christopher Reeve’s son has announced a “game changer’ in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

On Wednesday morning Matthew Reeve, speaking on behalf of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, told People Magazine, “It’s hard not to think, ‘What if he was here and what if he was present for this breakthrough?’ … My father dreamed of a world with empty wheelchairs and gave hope to a whole community… this is a key new step in that hope becoming realized.”

The game changer has already allowed four paralyzed men who were completely paralyzed from the neck or chest to move their toes, feet and legs. Several of the tests participants were even able to stand with the assistance of epidural stimulation.

The new therapy implanted a device that is wired to the paralyzed patient’s spinal cord and applies an electrical current. The electrical current provides important movement signals that would normally be delivered by the patient’s brain.

Not only were all four men given new mobility, they also experienced better bowel and bladder control, increased sexual function, and much improved cardiovascular capabilities.

The Reeve’s family is currently seeking public funding so the study can extend to 36 new patients. The hope is to improve the currently technology and further investigate the effectiveness of epidural stimulation on people with paralysis.

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, more than 6 million people in the United States live with some type of paralysis.

Christopher Reeve was paralyzed following an accident at a 1995 equestrian competition. After nearly two years of vocal support for spinal cord injury research, Reeve’s passed away from complications on October 10, 2004.

[Photo Credit: Mike Lin]

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