Paralyzed people feel their legs again utilizing Virtual Reality

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Recently a research was conducted at Duke University led by Miguel Nicolelis in North Carolina. This research and training program has helped eight paralyzed people to feel their legs again with the help of Virtual Reality.  Brain-controlled robotic systems which were applied in the training has helped the paraplegics to a great extent.

How is the VR-Based system helping Paralyzed People?

  • Brain-controlled systems simulated the control of the patients’ legs and helped them regain the feeling. It was over a decade for two of the eight patients who underwent the training since they ever felt something in their legs.
  • Improved sensations and muscle control were experienced by Four of the people who underwent the training for over a year.
  • Diagnoses of legs were improved to partial paralysis from complete paralysis because of the VR-based brain-control system.
  • Improved bladder control and bowel function due to which made the patients reduce or stop laxatives or catheters. As a result, the risk of life-threatening infections was reduced to a great extent.

Watch the video below to know how exactly the patients were able to walk again-

How does the VR-based Robotic Suit work?

The eight patients who underwent the training had to compulsorily spend two hours a week at least to control the devices with the help of their brain signals. Lessons on operating their avatar on any activity involving their legs were taught to the patients. For Example, A Game of football. 11 non-invasive electrodes were fitted on the caps worn to record the activity of the patient’s brain. They were then made to imagine a walk in the virtual world.

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According to Nicolelis, the motive of the training was to reinsert the representation of lower limbs into the patients’ brains. An imagination of movement was forcefully created by the patients during the therapy. The imagined movement was directly proportional to the utilization of surviving nerves by the body.  Nerves which were dormant due to disuse were awakened during this process.

The initial signs of improvement were spotted after seven months but the sensations had improved to a completely different level. The diagnosis had upgraded to a great extent also as experienced by the patients. Consequently, the therapy can completely rekindle the nerves when done for a long period according to the reports. Furthermore, Nicolelis has planned to extend the therapy to injured people also in the coming days.

Therefore, we can conclude that Virtual Reality can be of immense help in the medical field apart from Broadcasting Live Surgery and Real Time Applications. Keep reading this space to know more about such new innovations.

 

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