New technologies give hope to those with spinal cord injuries

When someone has suffered a spinal cord injury in the workplace, his life can change forever. The loss of sensation and movement associated with many spinal cord injuries is not only devastating, it is also permanent in most cases. While medical science has yet to develop pharmaceutical or surgical treatments that can reverse the effects of serious spinal cord injuries, some SCI patients are seeing significant improvement in their conditions due to new technologies.

Over the years, efforts to improve technologies available to paralyzed spinal cord injury victims have not always been particularly successful. Today, however, advances in robotics, manufacturing techniques and even software have made it possible to create fast, lightweight machines that can help to improve the quality of patients' lives. For example, new technologies have made it feasible to make lightweight robotic suits to aid in walking, wheelchairs that can go up and down stairs and artificial limbs that respond to neural commands.

These sorts of medical devices may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but the reality is that they are being used by doctors and physical therapists today to help improve patients' ability to regain function. Indeed, at the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, doctors are using robotic walking suits to help patients re-learn how to walk after spinal cord injuries. Patients use the suit to build strength in the muscles they use to walk. By helping the body to mimic the action of walking, the suit gives patients' spinal cords an opportunity to regain the ability to control certain muscle groups.

These sorts of treatments are not easy and it is not uncommon for spinal cord injury patients to plateau at a certain point in their physical therapy routines. New machines and technologies, like those currently used at Craig Hospital, can provide patients with the extra motivation they need to continue progressing in their treatment and regain as much function as possible.

Of course, no two spinal cord injuries are the same and what may work for one patient may not be the answer for another. Although new technologies fulfill an essential role for spinal cord injury patients, it is important that researchers continue to explore other possibilities to treat these sorts of injuries.

If you have been hurt at work and have suffered a serious injury, consider speaking to an experienced workers' compensation attorney, who can explain your legal rights.