"Feeling again" with wires?Oct 13 03:32
It’s a very unnerving thing to exist in a body you cannot feel. I don’t recommend it (unless you want to feel like a ghost). Doctors cannot cure the spinal cord, so its something we‘re told we must get used to when we show up with a broken back. My sadness over this huge loss however now has a ray of hope thanks to a mechanical breakthrough that can simulate real sensations. Our brains can control robotic limbs, now they’ll be able to sense them.
Researchers at Duke University are the group behind this monumental discovery. They aim to great a full exoskeleton that can help a person with SCI walk, as well as receive sensory feedback, by 2014. Their research to-date has involved two monkeys and implanting electrodes in their somatosensory cortex; the part of the brain that receives tactile sensation feedback from the environment. Their research hs been able to prove that with using these electrodes, it is possible for the brain to differentiate between various textures using the implant.
I don’t know about you, but this research, aka “Texture Messaging,” has gotten me really excited. While I’d prefer a cure that’s completely organic, beggars can’t be choosers, and I’ll take what I can get. It’s always felt so strange standing in my standing frame and not being able to feel my legs, to only know I’m standing by visual queues, and looking down at my legs to see where they are. Not exactly the memory I have of standing from before my injury.
I was fully prepared to embrace this exoskeleton technology knowing it’d be just like the standing frame - sensation-less. But now, oh now, the prospect of exo-technology actually feeling real, this is the best news yet.
Read the Full story: Texture Messaging: Breakthrough May Help Spinal Cord Patients Experience Tactile Sensations
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.