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Brain Machine Helps Paralysis Patients

Continuing advancements in the field of robotics has led to some incredible medical results over the last few years. Just take for example the Walk Again Project, which is a research project currently taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, in which patients suffering from paralysis of the lower limbs have regained partial sensation and muscle control after training with brained-controlled robotics.

The Walk Again Project

Research gathered from the project was recently published in Scientific Reports. The study involved eight patients suffering from spinal cord injuries that led to the paralysis of their lower limbs. Their injuries occurred in a number of different ways, from car crash impacts to falls.

The project included over 100 scientists from 25 different countries. It was headed by Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University and the co-director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. The combined efforts of the project team led to a patient suffering from paralysis being able to kick a soccer ball using a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton. In fact, this particular feat was on full display in 2014, when the patient showcased the result at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

Previous studies involved the use of rats and monkeys. These animals were provided with brain-implanted microelectrodes, which allowed them to learn how to control levers and walk on treadmills using only their brain activity. Basically, researchers discovered how the brain codes for movement and were able to apply this to paralyzed humans. The patients involved with the project were able to use their brain activity to simulate full control of their legs. Of the patients participating in the project, five had been paralyzed for at least five years and two had been paralyzed for more than ten years.

All eight patients spent two hours a week or more using devices controlled by their brain signals. After a year, their muscle control and sensation improved to the point where their diagnosis was changed from complete to partial paralysis. For more news concerning advancements in the medical field, visit us at The Benefits Store.


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