California Center Offers Innovative Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

Spinal cord injuries often result in permanent medical disability. Many patients never regain the ability to walk. However, an innovative treatment offered at a California medical center may be giving such wheelchair-bound patients new hope.

Doctors at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California and colleagues at the University of California Irvine recently published the results of their research, involving brain-controlled ambulation. Their work essentially connects a mind-computer interface to a robotic leg prosthesis on patients. The prosthetic limb can then be controlled in real time by EEG signals, taken from a patient and interpreted by the computer interface.

In a test, a patient was able to successfully operate the robotic prosthesis. Researchers believe the results indicate that restoring brain-controlled movement -- even walking -- may be possible. However, they caution that future work is necessary to test the technology in individuals with paraplegia due to spinal cord injuries. Someday, however, such devices may permit paraplegic patients to walk.

Severe spinal cord injuries are all too often the result of motor vehicle accidents. Because of the life-long care and rehabilitation required, the past and future medical bills can be staggering. In addition, family members may have to work virtually full-time to attend to the daily needs of their loved one.

If an accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, a civil lawsuit may provide some compensation. In severe spinal cord injury cases it is essential to identify all applicable insurance policies and other possible sources of recovery and to thoroughly develop the damages claim to maximize the verdict or settlement. An attorney will ensure you obtain the best result.

Source: Phys.org, "Team reports brain-controlled ambulation in robotic leg test," Nancy Owano, Sept. 4, 2012

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