Treating patients with spinal cord injuries has always been a tricky process, especially in those with limited mobility. But physicians and researchers have made headway with treatment programs that rely on robotics, namely exoskeletons, that have resulted in patients regaining some movement back. Most of it has been pretty conservative, but a select few patients have experienced some exciting breakthroughs, including the ability to possibly walk once more, with assistance.
That’s why this patient named Mark’s progress is so promising. A full spinal cord injury robbed him of any sensation below the midsection, but with the aid of an exoskeleton from IHMC, the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, Mark is able to stand on a Wii Balance Board for balance training. Without sensation in his legs to guide him he’d normally fall over, but he’s able to learn how to position himself properly to not collapse on the floor as the exoskeleton holds him up. The Balance Board offers extra training and feedback on weight distribution which aids his newfound ability to stay upright, and it’s pretty inspiring to see.
It’s empowering stuff, watching paralyzed patients regain the skills they need to potentially win back the mobility robbed from them when they were injured. It’s obviously baby steps for now for Mark, but it’s thrilling to think about anyone suffering from paralysis regaining independence and even walking again in the future. Plus, it’s a great use for that Wii Balance Board that’s no doubt gathering dust in your closet.