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Paralysis and treatment: Bionics

After suffering a brain injury or spinal cord injury, you could be suffering from paralysis. This is traditionally an issue that does not reverse itself, although there have been some cases of patients healing, at least somewhat, over time. If you've become interested in bionics, then you may have become excited over the possibility of getting one of these devices to treat your paralysis. There are some issues with that, since few devices ever make it to the market.

A new, interesting topic in the science field is whether or not paralysis can be reversed. In the case of one man, he was involved in a car accident while working, and he broke his neck. His lower body was paralyzed, and his hands no longer worked. In 1997, he had a sensor placed on his right shoulder. A device called a stimulator was implanted, and wires were threaded into his arm. There were wires implanted all throughout his upper body, but at the end of the operation, something spectacular was possible; he could once again use his hand.

This interesting product won't be available in the future, though, and that's something you may be concerned about, like this man is. The company that made it, NeuroControl, went out of business. That's not the main issue, though, since the man's implants were already in place. Later, he found he could no longer get replacement parts, and now he's been left without the use of his hand.

As a patient, knowing that new technologies can be squandered can be frustrating, and it can be difficult to get them implanted due to restrictions and politics. Bionic devices are starting to make it to the market, and over 250,000 people with spinal-cord injuries in the United States could benefit from them.

Source: Technology Review, "Paralyzed Again," Brian Bergstein, April. 09, 2015

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