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Wearable Technology Helps Victims of Brain Injury, Stroke

Jul 1, 2008
Victims suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or TBI caused by a stroke-induced brain injury were recently introduced to new technology enabling improvements of motor and physical skills among victims. Several companies have made advances in technology allowing victims to learn to reuse limbs paralyzed by TBI and stroke-induced TBI as well as to assist in stimulating nerves and muscles.

According to Bioness, manufacturers of the technology units known as NESS, the wearable technology can be worn in areas where extreme damage has been done to the muscles and nerves due to TBI. The technology uses mild electronic shocks to stimulate the muscles and nerves of the afflicted area, thus allowing movement.
The products have been implemented in several hospitals, including Sierra Providence Physical Rehabilitation Hospital in El Paso, Texas, for individuals suffering from brain injuries that may need short- and long-term assistance from their TBI injury.

Some of the technology in existence available to aid victims includes hand and foot rehabilitation devices. The hand rehabilitation technology is a plastic cuff molded around the hand, wrist and forearm and consists of six electrodes that transmit electronic impulses to stimulate nerves and muscles. The stimulation causes the muscles to become less stiff while also increasing circulation and strength of the injured area.

The hand rehabilitation device is attached to a small computer that, according to news reports, is similar to a handheld gaming gadget. The gadget is used to control electric shocks.

The foot cuff wraps around the leg and knee and is ideal for victims of TBI who suffer from what is known as foot drop, otherwise described as when an individual cannot walk correctly or lift their foot. The cuff, also attached to a game-like gadget uses sensors that detect the range of motion for a foot and heel to hitting the ground. Through nerve stimulation, the cuff allows a victim to control their foot mobility.

Additionally, the Journal of Biological Engineering recently published a study from researchers at Purdue University who found that patients being treated with an injectable simple polymer, polyethylene glycol (PEG), into the blood stream immediately following a head trauma had comparative less damage than compared to those that were delayed in receiving the polymer or who did not receive the polymer at all.

Technology Assists TBI Victims

As TBI becomes an ever-increasing technology among Americans, the technology has grown to encompass or assist the wide-range of TBI side effects. Not only are manufacturers looking at developing technology to assist victims of TBI, but scientists also continue to work on alternative treatments including the most recent technology that is being led by Nicholas Schiff of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Weill and his colleagues are studying the effects of electrically stimulating parts of the brain to improve TBI after-effects.

The study found that patients of TBI who have seriously debilitating side effects have a surprising level of brain activity and that if the victim's neural circuits are left intact, the brain can benefit and become active with stimulation.

Scientists used a procedure known as deep brain stimulation, in which electrodes are surgically implanted into the effected area of the brain. These electrodes are also connected to a pacemaker implanted in the chest. The device can be turned on or off, but once the device was turned on in many of their patients, arousal of cells occurred, and, with time, a patient's behaviors and abilities improved gradually.

Causes of TBI

While researchers, scientists and manufacturers continue to make strides with technological devices to assist brain injury victims there are still approximately 1.4 million victims of TBI a year, with 235,000 of those affected with TBI being hospitalized, 1.1 million individuals being treated and released, and approximately 50,000 TBI-related deaths per year. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5.3 million Americans suffer from long-term TBI after affects and that the medical costs associated with TBI range have been speculated to be around $60 billion.

There are numerous ways in which an individual can sustain a brain injury including but there are four accidents that make up most of these injuries:

* Falls, accounting for 28 percent of TBI accidents

* Automobile and traffic accidents are responsible for 20 percent of brain injury accidents.

* Nineteen percent are caused by being stuck by or against something

* Assaults account for 11 percent of brain injuries among individuals.

Those who have been injured in a TBI accident should not only seek medical attention immediately but should also consider developing brain injury litigation. Often times, expenses of medical bills associated with treating a brain injury can be far too costly for an average individual to pay for, which is why it is a necessity to speak with a TBI lawyer. Learning about developing a lawsuit to receive monetary compensation for the pain and suffering caused through a TBI.

Other Common TBI Treatments

There is an array of TBI treatments already available for TBI victims, and there are additional treatments being researched worldwide as well. Some of the most common treatments including surgery, medications or decompression of the brain, although counseling and therapy, both physical and mental, are most often outcomes from TBI as surgeries and experimental treatments are costly.

To learn more on protection yourself from a TBI injury or how to find protection while suffering from TBI, locate an experienced brain injury attorney who can provide insight into bettering the situation.
About the Author
For more information on traumatic brain injuries visit http://brain-injury.legalview.com/. Also use the LegalView homepage at http://www.LegalView.com to learn more about the recently revamped Avandia practice area or browse the LegalView library and learn about the latest research on the Levaquin risks.
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