Paralyzed people learn to move again with brain training
Exciting progress is being made to help paralyzed people move and feel again.
A recently published study describes the advances one international team made through the use of a brain-computer interface, or BCI, which, according to Popular Science, "provides a direct connection between brain activity and a computer or external device."
The goal is to have a person's thoughts direct physical movement.
For the research, eight paralyzed people with spinal cord injuries underwent a 12-month-long training with the brain device to see if movement could be restored.
MIT Technology Review reports that the patients wore brain-monitoring caps as they learned to move a person in a virtual reality headset before trying to direct an exoskeleton suit worn on their own lower body.
The team found that after the participants completed the program, they began to experience some physical sensation in multiple areas, and were able to voluntarily move some muscles below the spinal cord injury.
In fact, half were able to be reclassified as incomplete paraplegics.
Researchers hope to apply these lessons to stroke sufferers in the future.