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New medical technology may help spinal cord injury victims

When a Massachusetts resident sustains injury to his or her spinal cord, their lives can literally change in an instant. It's often the case that paralysis results from this kind of injury, which may require intensive medical care for a long period of time depending on the severity of the injury. The change also affects the victim's friends and family, as they may also have to adjust to the new reality of living alongside someone with spinal cord injuries.

A recent report may bring hope to those who are learning to live with this type of injury. A major university has published the results of an exciting experiment in which a paralyzed man was able to move a robotic arm with his thoughts. While the report may read more like science fiction than anything else, this is a huge development in the world of brain-computer interface technology.

The experiment began by taking functional magnetic resonance imaging of the man's brain as he watched video of arm movements. This enabled researchers to pinpoint the areas of the brain that correspond to those types of movements. An electrode array was then implanted on the man's brain, with wires running to a nearby computer. The man was then able to move objects on a computer screen and operate a robotic arm by simply thinking about those actions.

This is just one of the developments that have the potential to vastly improve the quality of life for Massachusetts patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries. As with any medical advancement, however, access to the technology that will result from this experiment will likely be expensive and may not be widely available for quite some time. When an individual sustains this type of injury due to the negligence of another, it is important to consider the cost of future medical care when making the decision whether to pursue civil action by way of a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: Nanowerk News, "Spinal cord-injured man controls robot arm with thoughts," Feb. 9, 2013

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