In the past few weeks, we have written several posts on how advances in medicine and technology are allowing accident survivors with spinal cord injuries to regain independence and mobility. For example, the high-tech robotic exoskeleton that allowed a young man injured in a motocross accident to stand and walk again.
In an incredible feat of ingenuity, researchers at UC Irvine have created a brain-to-computer implant that translates thoughts into leg movements. This new technology recently allowed a man paralyzed from the waist down to take his first steps since his motorcycle accident. The 28-year-old paraplegic walked 11 feet across the floor of UC Irvine’s iMove Lab with the help of an overhead suspension harness.
The computerized device works by transforming brainwaves into electrical signals that can be read by leg muscles. To isolate the necessary brain waves for controlling leg movement, the device uses a complex computer algorithm. It took months of practice to think about walking to produce brain waves needed to make the device work. Although the man lacked any sensation below the waste, the device tricked his legs into taking steps.
Can New Advances Help Paralyzed Motorcycle Accident Survivors to Walk?
Researchers are optimistic this new technology could provide greater independence for accident and stroke survivors. Although clinical applications of this technology are many years away, this study involving the paralyzed motorcycle accident survivor has been a great leap forward.
For paralyzed motorcycle accident survivors with spinal cord injuries, this technology and others like it can provide a greater sense of hope that walking again may soon become a real possibility.
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