A neural bypass procedure carried out by Neurosurgeons in the States and reported in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation has been hailed as a breakthrough for treatment of spinal cord injury.
The procedure which was undertaken on a man who had been confined to a wheelchair for 5 years, involved generating impulses which then triggered movement that avoided the torn spinal cord. This was done by transmitting signals from the patient’s brain to electrodes placed around both knees.
US researcher, Dr An Do said:
‘We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury. This non-invasive system for leg muscle stimulation is a promising method and is an advance of our current brain-controlled systems that use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton.’
The treatment involved a 19 week programme which involved at the beginning, learning to control a virtual reality avatar using brain waves. Due to loss of muscle tone and strength through wastage, the muscles had to then be built up on his legs.
A Bluetooth connection was part of the equipment, being used to transmit EEG brainwave signals wirelessly from the patient’s cap to a computer. Once, decoded these messages were sent to a micro-controller mounted on a belt, worn around the waist.
Clarke Willmott’s Serious Injury team act for injured Claimants including serious spinal injuries. If you or a member of your family have been affected by the issues in this article contact a member of the team on 0800 316 8892.