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Prosthetic may offer positive future for brain injury patients

Colorado residents may welcome the results of recent neurological experiments carried out at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Present and future sufferers of brain injury from medical malpractice, car accident or any other cause may benefit from a device used in the study. It is currently estimated that 1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.

The device is an implant that crosses damaged areas of the brain, which allows healthy portions to communicate more readily. The prosthetic device was placed in rats with traumatic brain injury, and the rats' ability to perform tasks was compared to their attempts without the device's help. The experiment placed pellets of food behind a small opening. This required them to reach through the opening, grasp the food and pull it back through. The brain injuries made this task extremely difficult for the rats. The implant allowed them to perform the task.

The effects of the device were shown to improve over time as well. After two weeks with the implant, rats performed tasks on par with their abilities prior to the lab-conducted brain injury. With the success, researchers stated that efforts would expand to other animals. There will also be a focus on spinal cord injury. At least one expert claimed that widespread use by humans would likely not occur for 10 to 15 years.

Surgical mistakes, misdiagnosis and other forms of doctor error may result in brain injuries in some cases. The victims are often in a difficult place to analyze the possibility that medical malpractice played a role in their injuries. Family of survivors may likewise be under the burdens of financial hardship and emotional suffering over the damage done to their loved one. If medical malpractice is a suspected cause of brain injuries, an attorney could provide assistance.

Source: Kansas City Star, "KU researcher's 'neural prosthesis' could help people with brain injuries", Alan Bavley, January 25, 2014

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