Marc Merger

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Marc Merger in June 2013.

Marc Merger (born May 5, 1961 ) is the first person whose damaged spinal cord has been bridged or its function has been replaced by an electronic implant .

Merger contracted paraplegia when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car and drove down an embankment in 1990. He agreed to make himself available for the Lève-toi et marche (or stand up and walk , since 1997 a European joint project).

The plan was to put a control device in the form of a microchip under the abdominal wall, and to implant eight cables per leg that would transmit the impulses to the muscles. The remote control - a command must be issued for each step at the touch of a button - should be integrated in a walking frame or later in the crutches Mergers.

The first attempt to bridge the nervous system disrupted by the injury failed; the implant placed in the patient's abdomen did not work as desired. In a second attempt in 2000, he succeeded in connecting part of his leg muscles to the control device. However, this does not mean that Merger regained normal ability to walk, since not all muscles can be controlled to the perfection that a natural nervous system can produce, and since the balance cannot be controlled by the external control. However, Merger is able to get up and take a few steps on a walking frame that contains the keyboard for his artificial nervous system.

In the months after the second operation, he was extremely positive about the result of the experiment. He wrote down his experiences in the book Lève-toi et marche (Edition Robert Laffont); a film version was also planned. In recent years, however, things have become quieter again about mergers and experiments.

Merger already worked as a professor of economics at the universities of Nancy , Metz and Strasbourg . He is married and has two children. He sits on the Strasbourg Citizens' Council.

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