How is it that a man who has been paralyzed from the neck down for more than a decade can now lift a glass of water and even play a rousing game of “rock, paper, scissors?” He simply has to will it, believe it or not.
Individuals with paralysis, including quadriplegics, cannot control their affected body limbs because their nerves, which relay movement signals from the brain to muscle like nodes in an electrical network, are damaged. Patients affected in this manner still have the capacity to think and form intentions of movement. The problem is that the connection between intention and output has been severed, figuratively speaking.
Thanks to technological innovation in the medical field, such severed connections can be restored, albeit through artificial means, allowing paralytics to regain movement. How? Well, scientists have come up with a microchip implant which uses electrodes to pick up signals from the brain and then send them to an artificial limb, causing it to move.
Up until very recently, a patient would usually receive the implant in the brain’s motor cortex (the area that initiates movement). In this latest case, however, the man received the implant in the posterior parietal complex (PPC) of the brain, which processes the patient’s intention to move rather than the instruction to move. Consequently, the patient can control movement by thinking of the desired end result of the movement (e.g. scratching his nose) rather than the movement itself. This allows him to execute the movement with much more spontaneity and fluidity than if it were achieved through motor cortex implants.
After receiving the surgical implants, the man learned how to use visualization to achieve intuitive movement of the artificial limb, with guidance from Caltech researchers and staff. He was absolutely thrilled with the results, which were quick and dramatic. He stated that he had an “out-of-body experience” and felt like he wanted to “run around and high-five everybody.”
It is possible now more than ever for quadriplegics to restore normalcy in their lives, as well as regain independence and the ability to perform daily tasks. Unfortunately, some paralysis victims don’t get the help they need and deserve because insurance companies refuse to pay them their rightful compensation.
If this tragic and unfair scenario applies to you, please contact Wilshire Law Firm for immediate assistance. Our tenacious personal injury attorneys will fight hard to obtain maximum recovery for your losses so you can gain access to the best medical treatments available. Call us at (800) 522-7274 to learn more about your rights and legal options in a FREE consultation.