Scientists say a new technique enabled rats whose spinal cords had been severed from their brain to run again, according to a study published in the journal Nature Neurology.
Researchers used electrical stimulation and drugs to help the rats walk on their hind legs on a treadmill within a week of being paralyzed.
After several weeks of physical therapy, the rodents were able to walk and run without stumbling for up to 30 minutes, the study said.
Also, the animals could adjust their movements in response to stimuli despite the lack of signals to and from the brain.
"This means that the spinal network is almost capable of cognitive processing," Zurich University professor Gregoire Courtine told Agence France-Presse. "It can understand that the external world is changing, and interpret this information to modify the way it activates muscle."