A spinal implant to help paraplegic patients exercise their paralysed leg muscles has been created.

The device, a microchip the size of a child’s fingernail, is works by stimulating the nerve roots in the spinal canal, which in turn stimulate muscle groups in the legs.

Multiple devices can be implanted into the spinal canal to stimulate several muscle groups, which can allow the users to perform controlled exercises such as cycling and rowing.

The device could also be used to stimulate bladder muscles in patients with urinary incontinence, and stimulating nerves to suppress spasms and improve bowel capacity.

The device has been developed by researchers at the University College London, UK, Freiburg University in Germany, and the Tyndall Institute in Ireland.