At Mayo, pioneering steps toward helping paralyzed patients

His face flushed from the effort, Jered Chinnock straightened his back after a therapist helped position his feet on the floor of a Mayo Clinic hospital lab. He paused, concentrating, before he gently loosened his grip on the metal railing at his side.

“Nice control!” a physical therapist encouraged him as he recently stood perfectly still, everyone in the room watching.

It was a simple act, but for Chinnock and so many others, it was confirming a medical breakthrough:

He was standing. Unsupported. Four years after he was paralyzed.

Chinnock is one of a handful of patients in the country who, through the collaborative work of pioneering researchers, have had a small electrical stimulator implanted on their spine.

So far, the 28-year-old from Tomah, Wis., injured in a snowmobile accident in February 2013, has been able to consciously move his legs in step-like motions — both while lying on his side and while partly suspended in a harness — as well as support his own weight to stand.

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