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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/6/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Inventors hope to have quadriplegic striding onto soccer field by 2014

The paralyzed may soon be able to walk again . Dr. Miguel Nicolelis along with his international group of researchers say they have cleared a hurdle to the construction of a prosthetic suit that will enable the paralyzed to walk, as well as restore their sense of touch. They hope that on the opening day of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil to send a young quadriplegic striding out to playing fields to open the games, suited up in the "prosthetic exoskeleton" they aim to build.

By adding sensory feedback, the latest experiment creates a loop of command and control that could make the complex act of walking possible.

By adding sensory feedback, the latest experiment creates a loop of command and control that could make the complex act of walking possible.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/6/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Paralysis, touch, movement, Walk Again Institute


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nicolelis with collaborators, neuroscientists and physiologists from Brazil, Switzerland, Germany and the United States have reported success with lab monkeys.

The Brazilian- born scientist Nicolelis calls his goal a "Brazilian moon shot." As with moon shots in the past, the path was cleared by two female rhesus monkeys named Mango and Nectarine. In laboratory tests, electrical messages conveying sensation could be sent directly to the monkeys' brains. Both animals could distinguish among three identical circles by virtually "feeling" their differing textures. Specially coded electrical currents were delivered straight to each monkey's sensory cortex by four filaments the breadth of a hair.

Both Mango and Nectarine quickly learned to discern one circle from another to complete a task.

For a person with a spinal cord injury, sending such orchestrated bursts of electrical information to the brain could do more than allow a patient who has lost sensation to experience the pleasures of touch again. The breakthrough would also provide the necessary sensory feedback for the user of a prosthetic walker to navigate uneven terrain and steer clear of dangers such as hot or slippery surfaces.

By adding sensory feedback, the latest experiment creates a loop of command and control that could make the complex act of walking possible.

Dr. Bruce Volpe, a professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College calls the breakthrough a "remarkable use of sensory information" that "opens novel ... possibilities" for patients who have lost movement and sensation to injury or illness.

Following injury or stroke, patients' recoveries are often hampered by the "noisy, unresponsive or absent sensory information" making its way to their brains," Volpe says. "These data suggest new options for generating that missing and crucially informative sensory information," he said.

"We are trying to provide the patient a new body, and we believe the patient's brain will assimilate the new body as part of the sense of self of the patient," Nicolelis said. "It would be just like a car . only a little tighter."

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