Can Robots Help Spinal Injury Victims Regain Function?

There’s incredible news from Brazil suggesting that some people with spinal injuries can regain sensation and mobility by doing a bit of “brain training” with a robot-like machine.

The Research at a Glance

Working with patients who had problems with motor or sensory function in their lower extremities, researchers trained them to actually visualize moving their muscles as they wore virtual reality goggles and provided them with tactile feedback – or some sort of touch for positive confirmation– on their arms.

Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist and physician with Duke University, led the research. He said that the goal was to create brain signals that could be detected by electrodes causing the bulky robotic apparatus to stimulate or move their muscles.

“For the first time in many years, they were able to voluntarily control their muscles,” Dr. Nicolelis said. “They could move their legs or contract muscles under voluntary control.”

Participants in the study had been paralyzed for 3-13 years.

Does It Really Work?

Before we get too excited, it’s important to take into account remarks made by Dr. Lyn Jakeman. She’s a neuroscientist who directs spinal cord injury research for the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke.

“Overall, the study (from Brazil) is plausible and interesting,” she said before noting that the participants had a host of different types of interventions, making it difficult to determine if the visualization techniques were the sole reason for improvements among the participants.

Spinal Injury Research Continuing

While Dr. Nicolelis vows to continue with his promising research, other scientists are pursuing their own approaches to treating spinal injuries. Such methods run the gamut from medicines that limit damage caused by the injury to cell transplantation and electrical stimulation used to retrain the central nervous system.

If You’ve Suffered a Spinal Injury, Let Barber & Associates, LLC Fight for You!

We’re definitely encouraged by the good work being done by some of the world’s most gifted researchers. We’ll continue’ to follow the news for the latest results and will bring them to you.

If you’ve experienced a spinal injury due to someone else’s negligence, we urge you to leverage our skills and expertise in fighting for proper and fair compensation.

Schedule a free consultation by calling Barber & Associates LLC at 800-478-5858. You can also reach us via email.

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