Mix of brain training, physical therapy can help paralyzed patients | Science News

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Mix of brain training, physical therapy can help paralyzed patients

After year of treatment, paraplegics regain some muscle control, feeling

By
9:00am, August 11, 2016
patient doing VR

LEARNING TO WALK  A patient wearing virtual reality goggles and a cap that captures signals from the brain can use thoughts to control the movement of an avatar. Such brain training helped paraplegics in a new study regain some feeling and function. 

Training the brain could give paraplegics more control over their bodies.

After a year working with devices that link machine to brain, people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries were able to regain some movement and feeling in their legs, Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues report August 11 in Scientific Reports.

The training included an assortment of therapies with futuristic-looking gizmos, including virtual reality goggles and robotic exoskeletons that fasten over the body. All patients were better able to sense pain and touch, and half had their diagnosis upgraded from complete to partial paralysis.

“This is a very key milestone in the field of brain-machine interfaces,” Nicolelis said in a news briefing August 9.

But some scientists aren’t convinced that it’s such an advance.

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