Technology Aiding Paralyzed Persons

Posted on Apr 18, 2016

paralyzing accidentOut of all the car accidents in North Carolina each year, approximately less than 1 percent are fatal. Approximately 32 percent of car crashes across our state (according to 2013 figures) caused injuries. Some injuries are life-changing.

When recovering and and copying with short-term or long-term paralysis, accident survivors adjust their lives to conform to the injury. Home modifications, such as a ramp or accessible shower stall, might be necessary. Their vehicle might need to be customized, or an entirely new vehicle purchased that offers accessibility and mobility for their condition. 

In addition to modifying one's environment - what about changing oneself? This might seem counterproductive at first, given that paralysis could be permanent. However, technology--particularly wearable technology and implanted technology--helps paralyzed individuals with movement.

A study published in Nature this month outlines a new device for paralyzed individuals that uses a microelectrode brain implant and electrical stimulation to trigger the individual's desired movement. The study surrounded a spinal cord injury victim who became a quadriplegic after being injured in a swimming pool accident. The technology essentially translates thoughts (electrical pulses from the brain) into movement, filling in the circuit that was lost in the injury.

This type of technology isn't new. Researchers have known for years this is possible with brain signals, but the amount of equipment needed to sustain this type of mobility for injured persons is too cumbersome and costly to have at home. Brain-machine interfaces are generally not small and still rely on wired technology. The new advancement of having an implant is a step in a direction that might eventually lead to a home-ready device. Perhaps at some point a wireless version will be developed.

If you or someone you know is a veteran and has leg paralysis - they might be eligible for a robotic device that's available for some veterans with spinal cord injuries.

Learn about how medical illustrations can help in a paralysis case. Raleigh injury lawyer Brent Adams explains in the prior link.