Helping Spinal Cord Injury Patients Walk

Accident Lawyers

Many people are aware of the various injuries resulting from a car accident such as whiplash, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and even post-traumatic stress disorder. But many are not aware of the lengths that some patients have to go through in order to heal from another commonplace auto accident disability known as spinal cord injury (SCI). A patient with a SCI faces high mortality rates within the first year of their injury if it is not properly treated. Accident victims diagnosed with SCI may face thousands if not millions of dollars in medical fees in order to recover their health.

With auto accidents accounting for approximately 38% of reported SCIs, followed by falls, acts of violence like shootings, and physical activities such as sports,  A SCI can potentially, if not permanently, affect an injured person's way of living. Approximately 5.4 million Americans are dealing with paralysis in the form of tetraplegia, paralysis of all four limbs, or paraplegia, paralysis of the legs and lower half of the body.  That number is estimated to grow around 17,000 every year due to newly reported cases of SCI according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC). As a result, the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics at Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, have created an algorithm along with robotic assistance, that may help spinal cord injury patients walk naturally.

The authors of the study have discovered that patients dealing with SCIs are having difficulty making their muscles move again because of muscle mass loss and their nervous systems “forgetting” their natural muscle movements. Armed with this knowledge, the researchers put their teams to work in creating an algorithm for a  robotic physical therapy harness that would be attached to the ceiling while patients walked on a treadmill. Through the invention of the harness and gravity, patients will adjust their gait more naturally due to their own weight. After testing a small sample of 30 patients, the researchers saw encouraging results in their patients' gait and motor functions after only an hour of training with the new and improved harness. The inventors of the harness state that they took into consideration the patient's leg movement, the length of stride, and muscle activity in order to help their patients walk better than they would if they were using the traditional rehabilitation treadmill method.

Spinal cord injury lawyer

“The smart walk assist is an innovative body-weight support system because it manages to resist the force of gravity and push the patient back and forth, to the left and to the right, or in more of these directions at once, which recreates a natural gait and movement that the patient's need in their day to day lives.” the authors wrote in Medical News. Prof. Jocelyne Bloch from the Department of Neurosurgery at Lausanne University Hospital added, “This is a smart, discreet, and efficient assistance that will aid rehabilitation of many persons with neurological disorders."

This medical discovery can help future SCI victims gain their independence by helping them heal quickly and possibly decrease the mortality rate of patients who die within the first year of being diagnosed with SCI. Hopefully, rehabilitation clinics will not have to wait long to utilize the harness and will be able to help their patients get back on their feet with little to no complications in the not so distan future.

Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are serious reasons why victims of car crash accidents should immediately seek medical attention after their car accident. Diagnoses and treatments are usually critical within the first few hours to days after symptoms manifest. If you or a loved one is suffering from a TBI or SCI after being involved in an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. We offer free consultations and have experience working with clients diagnosed with SCIs and TBIs.