New research suggests it may not be long before medical technology allows partial movement and sensation for people with paralysis. American and Brazilian researchers conducted a study that used virtual reality and a robotic exoskeleton to trick the brain into believing it was causing leg movement. Eight people who had been paralyzed for three years participated in the study.
To trick the brain into believing it was causing leg movement, participants wore Oculus headsets (virtual reality headsets) and caps with electrodes to record brain activity. After the caps detected brain activity, the participants would see their legs moving in a virtual world. The recorded brain activity was then later used to power movement for robotic legs, tricking the brain into believing it was behind the movement.
Participants used this technique for one year, and some gained partial movement and sensation. Four of the eight participants had their diagnosis changed from paralysis to partial paralysis! Some participants reported more independence in their daily lives, such as going to the bathroom. This is the first time an experiment involving the treatment of spinal cord injuries has shown such significant recovery.
Why Is This Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Exciting?
According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 people are paralyzed every year. Many of these people are injured by falls, traffic accidents or violence. Pain and suffering caused by spinal cord injuries could be reduced by future technologies that restore movement and sensation, and that’s what makes this news exciting.
The Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat, LLP, can help victims of traffic accidents or their families explore legal options.