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New prosthesis could help those with spinal cord injuries

New York readers may be interested to learn about a new technology that enables people to more accurately control a prosthesis with their thoughts. The advancement, which was developed by a team of engineers at Stanford University, could allow people with spinal cord injuries or neurological diseases to regain some of their independence.

By studying the brain dynamics of two monkeys trained to use a simplified keyboard, Stanford researchers were able to build an algorithm that could analyze the electrical signals needed to more precisely operate a thought-controlled prosthesis. When tested, the prosthesis was approximately 90 percent as accurate as the monkey's own finger when striking keyboard targets. In comparison, thought-control techniques developed by other researchers have only been about 80 percent accurate.

The goal of the Stanford team was to help people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, obtain a higher quality of life. ALS gradually degrades a person's ability to move. The new technology could allow people with ALS or other forms of paralysis to control a wheelchair, computer or tablet with their thoughts. To that end, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the researchers permission to conduct a pilot clinical trial of their thought-controlled device.

New York residents who have suffered a spinal cord injury may wish to consult with an attorney regarding their legal options. If the injury was caused due to the negligent actions of another party, it may be advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages that have been sustained, including the projected costs of future medical care as well as loss of earning capacity.

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