Can thought-control technology really be the key to overcoming paralysis?
During the recovery process, both the brain and mental willpower play a vital part in the success of rehabilitation. In the case of spinal cord injury, where paralysis often occurs, for many years scientists have been looking for ways to allow the patient to use their limbs once again. Just recently, a major technological breakthrough has been made in Ohio, USA - harnessing brainpower to make the dreams of movement come true for spinal cord injury patients.
What is thought-control technology and how does it work?
In order for the treatment to become effective, the sensors are implanted into the brain of a patient - along with electrodes in the body that communicate with one another with the aim of leveraging activity in the brain to spark movement in the body.
This is not a simple process - as it involves training the mind over a period of time. The signals from the brain must be successfully ‘read’ by the electrodes connected to the computer system, which is then able to match these up.
Breakthrough Thought-Control Experiment on Spinal Cord Injury Patient
A recent study on one man named Bill Kochevar, 56 - has produced promising result in the effectiveness of thought-control technology as a method of spinal cord injury treatment. Before these findings were observed, Bill underwent an intensive period of training.
After 36 electrodes were planted in his arm, in different areas of the muscle, Bill undertook 18 weeks training whereby the electrodes were stimulated to build the muscle.
In addition to this physical training, four months of brain training were required to hone the signal accuracy and strength - which aimed to eventually allow him to control movements with his brain. This involved a virtual-reality setup, simulating the control of the movements with a specially built on-screen arm.
- The results
Together with a mobile arm support, thought-controlled to help effectively combat the effect of gravity - Bill was able to carry out a number of tasks, including eating and drinking otherwise unassisted by another. This was the first time in eight years he had been able to move - a miraculous achievement.
Leader of the research - Bolu Ajioye, has commented on the study: “We have been able to take the electrical signals that represent his thoughts and use them to control stimulation of his arm and hand - now we can tell the world that it is possible to reconnect the brain and make the arm move again”.
The Future of Paralysis
This recent breakthrough, together with the use of thought control to control robotic limbs shown by studies last year, has proven life after spinal cord injury could be about to get considerably easier.
Although, the research does not come without its risks, specifically those associated with invasive brain surgery. The implants themselves are harmless and can be present in the body without causing discomfort and issue. During the two year period of Bill’s trial - there were only few minor issues relating to the implant, carrying a positive reputation for future usage.
Interestingly, the power of the mind has also encouraged a sense of feeling in the limbs - proved recently when a paralysed man was able to sense touch from his robotically controlled arm.
Overall, the future certainly does look promising for these latest developments in thought-control technology - proving that technology looks to be the way forward for many of those affected by spinal cord injury when it comes to the rehabilitation process.
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Rehabilitation after an accident causing a spinal injury is often a slow process, which many can find difficult.
If you have been affected by a spinal injury, knowing help is at hand is often a relief during turbulent stages straight after an accident, and coming to terms with the future impact on your life. As a unique venture between the Aspire Charity and Moore Blatch solicitors - Aspire law are a team of dedicated and experienced spinal cord injury solicitors. We ensure that in any claim you receive the very highest standard of rehabilitation available and the access to the very best technology and equipment on the market.