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Brain-machine interfaces may improve the lives of paraplegics

According to the World Health Organization, over 280,000 people in the United States suffer from spinal cord injuries. Most were caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls and acts of violence. Damage to the spinal cord can result in paraplegia, or paralysis of the legs and trunk. The effects of paraplegia can be long-term or, in many cases, life-long. However, some paraplegic patients may be able to move again with recent research developments.

A study published in Scientific Reports reveals that participants were able to regain some feeling and neurological control in major muscle areas. The eight patients in the study were paraplegics with spinal cord injuries who were completely paralyzed for a minimum of three years. The patients trained on various brain-machine interfaces for at least two hours a week for an entire year.

The interfaces allow them to use their brain activity to simulate leg control. When researchers tested the patients without the device, they were shocked to find that they were able to move and feel sensations. Four of the eight patients went from complete paralysis to partial paralysis. Many of the patients reported general improvement in their everyday lives and an ability to be more independent.

While these advancements are encouraging, there are still many Louisiana residents with spinal cord injuries that will require long-term medical care. Filing a claim against those responsible for the accident to recover damages may make it easier to afford these treatments. In addition to medical expenses, damages can also cover lost wages, pain and suffering and mental anguish for those suffering.

Source: CNN, “Paraplegics moving again injuries,” Jacqueline Howard, Aug. 11, 2016

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