Paraplegic makes scientific history by becoming first to walk using only brainpower

A man completely paralysed from the waist down has become the first paraplegic patient to walk without relying on manually operated robotic limbs.

Adam Fritz, 26, was confined to a wheelchair five years ago after suffering a spinal cord injury.

But scientists were able to reconnect his brain and legs in a miraculous breakthrough using just his brain power.

Following 19 weeks of training, the American was able to walk along a 12ft course while a harness and walking frame stopped him from falling over.

Adam told ITV News the experience was "amazing" and gave him hope for the future.

Mr Fritz is still a long way from being able to move like he did before his accident.

More work is also needed to discover if the procedure can be used to restore a practical level of walking ability and help other patients.

But he said the feeling of being able to walk again was "like his mind had never forgotten".

"It was this odd combination of being ecstatic but also being comfortable.

"The first few moments, I was so focused on just walking that I couldn't think of anything else.

"The researchers who were there were almost just as excited as I was, they were almost jumping up and down for me."

Mr Fritz told how he when he was first paralysed and was lying in a hospital bed he "wanted to have hope he would walk again".

"Then when I actually did walk again, I could let that fear of being let down go," he told ITV News.

"It actually happened and I made it happen. It was an incredible feeling,"

Dr An Do, from the University of California who led the research, said the development was a "promising method".

He explained: "Even after years of paralysis the brain can still generate robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking.

"We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury."

During the experiment the patient was able to conduct a "light conversation" with the test team while attempting to walk, the scientists revealed.

In future, the electrode cap used in the study to record brain signals is likely to be replaced by hidden implants.

Co-author Dr Zoran Nenadic said they hope such an implant could deliver sensation back to the brain, enabling the user to feel their legs.

The results of the research were published in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.