Four paralysed men have been able to move their legs for the first time in years after electrical stimulation of their spinal cords, US doctors report.
They were able to flex their toes, ankles and knees – but could not walk independently.
A report, in the journal Brain, suggests the electricity makes the spinal cord more receptive to the few messages still arriving from the brain.
Experts said it could become a treatment for spinal injury.
The spinal cord acts like a high-speed rail line carrying electrical messages from the brain to the rest of the body. But if there is any damage to the track, then the message will not get through.
People with spinal cord injuries can lose all movement and sensation below the injury.