Patients Battling Spinal Cord Injuries May Regain Use of Limbs

Patients Battling Spinal Cord Injuries May Regain Use of Limbs

Patients Battling Spinal Cord Injuries May Regain Use of Limbs

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Every year, my firm meets new clients struggling to adjust after suffering serious spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Some endured bad falls at work while others managed to survive serious swimming pool accidents, car wrecks and other tragic events. All of them bravely try to regain as much of their prior functioning skills as possible, even though they know that quadriplegia will always require all of their bravery and a fighting spirit.

Patients with quadriplegia (tetraplegia) must usually cope with losing control of their pelvic organs – as well as their arms, hands, and legs. Few doctors encourage them to believe that highly advanced technologies will one day reverse their fate. Nevertheless, researchers have now developed a highly sophisticated system that’s currently allowing a 56-year-old man named Bill Kochevar to use his thoughts to move his arm and hand.

Here’s additional information about how this Navy veteran learned to move his limbs again after they were paralyzed for roughly nine years.

Can A Paralyzed Adult Use His Thoughts & Technology to Move His Limbs?

Back in 2006, Bill Kochevar thought he had lost nearly everything after he went on a very ill-fated bicycle ride. When the truck he had been carefully following suddenly stopped, he ran right into it. Doctors soon told him that he would be permanently paralyzed from his shoulders down to his feet for the rest of his life. Since his brain could no longer send messages through his nerves to help move his limbs, he would need to adjust to his quadriplegia.

Determined to maintain his health as best he could, Kochevar pressed forward. Once 2013 rolled around, he learned from his VA hospital doctors that researchers were looking for a brave quadriplegic to take part in an experimental study. This person would need to allow doctors to implant special electrodes under his skull — that would then be connected via cables to electrodes implanted in his arm muscles. Kochevar remains glad that he volunteered to take part.

During the following years, he worked closely with the researchers and doctors at Case Western Reserve University – as well as others at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center that’s part of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. He had to be patient since early attempts to get all the technological devices to work properly met with limited success.

However, once researchers managed to accurately decode Kochevar’s thought commands to move his limbs (using the electrode arrays implanted in his brain that could read neural signals) — the lab experiment move forward.

Since the muscles in his arm had atrophied greatly, the electrodes implanted there proved to be very important. Nevertheless, Kochevar still needed to use a mobile arm support since his paralyzed shoulder didn’t have adequate strength to help him lift his arm.

Kochevar’s Hard Work Now Allows Him to Often Use the System in the Lab

The researchers involved in this project now marvel at all that they’ve learned during the past decade while developing the BrainGate2 system that Kochevar regularly uses in the lab. He can now use his thoughts to move his arm and hand while eating things like pretzels and mashed potatoes.

As might be expected, Bill Kochevar now dreams of the day when doctors and researchers can create mobile forms of this lab system. When that day arrives, he and many others will regain a remarkable degree of freedom that they will likely consider long overdue.

Related Articles by Ed Smith ~

Sacramento Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of someone else, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Or, call free of charge at (800) 404-5400 when dialing from outside the Sacramento region.

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