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Brussels, 15 March 2000

Invitation to the press
Enabling a paraplegic to "Stand up and walk" : a European first

Project overview

On 20 March, a consortium of European research teams, which has achieved a medical breakthrough in restoring locomotion for people having lost the use of their legs, will meet in Brussels to sum up the results of their successful cooperation and explore possibilities for future joint activities. Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for research, will take the opportunity of the meeting to discuss with the scientists and to be introduced to the patient who benefited from their medico-technological achievement.

The research project, appropriately called "Stand up and walk" (SUAW), aims to demonstrate that, in some instances, people who have been paralysed, usually due to an accident affecting the spinal cord, can recover some ability to walk. This is achieved through an operation inserting an electronic implant and electrodes that stimulate muscles and nerves in a precise and controlled manner.

The research consortium comprises seven partners, including several European companies, plus a network of rehabilitation centres in five European countries. The meeting will be chaired by the project co-ordinator, Prof. Pierre Rabischong, from the university of Montpellier, who will present the work of the consortium with Marc Merger, the first patient having undergone such an operation.

The meeting will take place on 20 march 2000 at the Charlemagne building, rue de la Loi 170, 1040 Brussels. Journalists are welcome to meet with the scientists, the patient and Commissioner Busquin between 13.00 and 14.00. They should notify Michel Claessens or Stéphane Hogan before the event so that practical arrangements can be made. The meeting will be followed by a lunch.

For further information, please contact:

Stéphane Hogan
Quality of Life programme, Research DG
Fax: +32.2.299.1860
E-mail : Research Contact

Michel Claessens
Communication Unit, Research DG
Fax: +32-2-295.82.20
E-mail: michel.claessens@ec.europa.eu

Project "Stand up and walk (SUAW)"

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PRESS RELEASES | 02.10.2000