Computer stimulation may aid the paralyzed

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 23 (UPI) -- U.S. medical engineers say computerized electrical stimulation might be used to help people regain more precise control of paralyzed limbs.

Although research is still in preliminary stages, University of Florida engineers said computer-adapted electrical stimulation might one day help people who suffer paralysis from strokes or spinal cord injuries.


"It's an adaptive scheme to do electrical stimulation more efficiently, with less fatigue and more accuracy," said Associate Professor Warren Dixon, adding existing techniques do little more than apply a set current to a designated muscle.

Dixon said stroke sufferers often unconsciously drag their toes, causing them to stumble. He said his goal is to develop techniques for a wearable, pacemaker-sized device that would deliver stimulation to the calf at just the right moment in a person's gait, lifting the toe enough to avoid a stumble and enable a natural walk.

The device would adapt to individuals, adjusting itself to weight, activity and diet, he said.

The research is to appear later this year in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.

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