Man Meets Machine
Remember those science fiction television shows like the “Bionic Man” where technology was used to combine man and machine? Well, that no longer exists just in the imagination of a screenwriter. It’s become a reality.
Today, science has made it possible for people with paralysis to stand and walk, grasp things with their hands, and control bladder and bowel movement. How is this done?
A neural prosthesis is wired directly to the nervous system, allowing it to replace or supplement nerve function.
Currently, the Parastep, a device that allows paraplegics to ambulate, is the only neural prosthetic available on the United States market. Neural prostheses designed to facilitate hand grasping and bowel and bladder movement are FDA approved, but have been pulled from the U.S. market because of high costs and low reimbursement rates.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke participates in developing aids for people with paralysis through the Neural Prosthesis Program. For more information, go tohttp://npp.ninds.nih.gov/nnp