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Haves & Have-Nots: High Tech Recovery from Paralysis

Guest Blog

Haves & Have-Nots: High Tech Recovery from Paralysis

Should it be possible for the wealthy with access to high-tech devices to be able to reverse serious injuries such as paralysis when the poor are unable to? This ethical dilemma will be trickier to resolve the more technology can enhance recovery.

Recently, scientists at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio say they’ve used electronics to get around a paralyzed man’s spinal injury, permitting him to use an implant in his brain to move his arm and hand. The project, described today at the meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, is a step toward a wireless system able to transmit brain signals through the air to electronics sewn into the limbs of paralyzed people, thereby restoring the ability to carry out simple daily tasks. This is just one example of the exciting developments technology has to offer for rehabilitation in the future.

Another promising therapy that enhances nervous system function to speed recovery from paralysis is Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS). In VNS, a mild electric pulse is sent through an access point to the nerve, which is located in the neck.This causes the nervous system to speed recovery from the weakness and paralysis caused by strokes. A promising study done by the UT Dallas demonstrated in a double-blind study that VNS may aid this recovery in a powerful way at a moderate cost. Recovery by VNS was compared with recovery using rehabilitation therapy only. With rehabilitation, recovery on the Fugl-Meyer scale improved three points. With VNS, it improved nine points. This scale measures the degree to which a patient has recovered from the damage done by a stroke. This device, similar in cost to a pacemaker is surgically inserted and the patient is given a remote control to operate it. According to the American Stroke Association nearly 800,000 people a year suffer from stroke in the United States.

For now, it is important that injured people have access to the best medical specialists and physical and occupational therapists available. In this way, they improve their odds for a full and complete recovery greatly. One way those who have suffered catastrophic injury can level the playing field, is by contacting a personal injury attorney. In many cases, the experience of a skilled lawyer can help secure a settlement to improve your quality of life.