Virtual Reality Machines Help People With Spinal Injuries Improve Mobility


 

Florida spine specialist

If scientists could find a way to help paralyzed patients with chronic spine issues walk again, it would be one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time.

Neurosurgeons and researchers are already using regenerative stem cell therapy for spinal health treatments, but this is just the start of a very complicated process. This August, South American scientists announced a major step forward.

According to NPR, Brazilian researchers have made a breakthrough discovery. After performing tests and research experiments to assist those with spinal health problems gain mobility, virtual reality machines attached to the head might actually help.

The findings, published by scientists who are part of the ?Walk Again Project,? suggest that damaged spinal tissue can be retrained through practice and repetition. Even people with serious injuries, if the therapy is consistent, thorough and strong enough, they could potentially regain some functionality and sensation.

The study took a look at eight paralyzed people who didn’t regain enough mobility to walk or support their own bodyweight on their legs, but they did improve the quality of their life because of better control over their bladder and bowel functions. Some paralyzed men were able to have an erection and one woman, for the first time, could feel her baby through the contractions during vaginal pregnancy, which she decided on. Each patient had been paralyzed for three to 13 years.

“For the first time in many years they were able to voluntarily control their muscles,” said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a physician and neuroscientist with Duke University who led the research. “They could move their legs or contract muscles under voluntary control. This has not been seen before, I call this an important milestone.”

Approximately 25 million people suffer with serious spine health issues across the globe and there certainly is a long way to go in this field, which is only in its infancy as of yet, but after breakthrough scientific discoveries like this, the future is bight.

“They are continuously improving,” added Nicolelis. Specifically, one patient, a woman who struggled to even move her body, now can get up and get around. She can even drive a car now.

Nicolelis knows his testing cost a lot of money, but he believes that if the virtual brain training is necessary for improving spinal health, it could be a less expensive therapy, not to mention a revolutionary scientific breakthrough.

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