• Vallicia Clark

Paraplegics moving again years after injuries

Researchers have just witnessed something that they say has never before been seen in the field of medicine: Patients who have been severely paralyzed for more than a decade have regained some sensation and neurological control in key muscles.

In other words, they can move again, at least a bit.

Paraplegic people with spinal cord injuries spent one year training on brain-machine interfaces, such as virtual reality systems and robotic exoskeletons, which allowed them to use their own brain activity to simulate control of their legs, according to a small study published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday.

The findings suggest that long-term training on such interfaces that utilize the virtual world could help paraplegic patients regain some sensations and possibly mobility in the real world, said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University who led the study as part of the Walk Again Project in São Paulo, Brazil.

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