Robotics Offer New Hope For Recovery From Traumatic Spinal Injuries

Researchers at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia have devised a robotic limb that may help patients recover normal leg movement after suffering from spinal injuries or stroke. The robotic limb uses a brain-machine interface and electrical stimulation of the spine in order to help patients move their leg and help brain cells reestablish electrical communication with muscle cells responsible for regular movement.

One of the primary difficulties for those who have experienced traumatic spinal injuries or strokes is that both can result in a significant loss of movement. Both spinal injuries and strokes can weaken the electrical connections between brain cells and muscle cells, resulting in sporadic and decreased mobility. Oftentimes, patients who experience these injuries and suffer from weakened connections between their brain cells and muscle cells must undergo intensive physical therapy programs. While physical rehabilitation is beneficial for restoring these connections, it takes a significant amount of time and effort and can be a frustrating process for patients.

Now, Ivan et al. have designed a robotic limb that combines a brain-machine interface, electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, and virtual reality simulations to help patients recover their motor ability without undergoing the difficulties of traditional physical rehabilitation.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.