The advancements in medicine over the past 100 years are amazing. When looking back at medical practice from the middle ages, many of the medical procedures appear barbaric. The frightening part, though, is that many of these practices were still around in the early 20th century. Even many of the updated techniques were replaced by methods that were barely better than those that came before.
Part of all of this is simply perspective. In the future, all of our current ways of treating injuries and illnesses will likely be seen as either barbaric or quaint. Chemotherapy, amputation, and open-heart surgery will all likely be viewed as horrendous procedures. Still, the strides made by humanity in the medical field during the past 100 years have far exceeded the advancements made in the 1,000 years before them.
Many breakthroughs are likely still a long way off, but one advancement that may be closer than you think is in helping people to recover from paralysis. In 2018, for the first time ever, a person suffering from complete lower-limb paralysis took independent steps.
Will Paralysis Soon Be a Thing of the Past?
The advancements that enabled a 29-year-old Wisconsin man to walk again after suffering from complete lower body paralysis are incredible. However, they must be looked at through the eyes of a realist rather than an optimist. The steps of Jered Chinnock are momentous ones and may be the first steps on the path to overcoming paralysis, but there are many more steps that still need to come.
It’s important to look at the whole picture when evaluating the case of Jered Chinnock. After getting in a snowmobile that left his lower body paralyzed, he was put through the same recovery protocols faced by everyone facing lower-body paralysis. He had some vertebrae fused together, was given upper body strengthening exercises, and was prepared for a life in a wheelchair.
However, after years of paralysis, he joined a Mayo Clinic study. The study involved the implantation of an electrical stimulator device in his lower spine.
After a few weeks, Jered began to show progress. It started with being able to make step-like movements while lying on his side. After that, he was able to stand on his own. Then he was able to make step-like motions while standing. He still had a long way to go, though. Finally, after months of work in over 100 sessions, Jered was able to walk by making independent leg movements.
With a walker and a trainer to help him maintain balance, Jered walked for 111 yards in a single session with breaks. It was a momentous occasion.
One Small Piece of the Puzzle
While Jered’s progress is certainly a breakthrough, in the long run, it is only one small piece of the puzzle. An important piece, like a corner, but still just a single piece.
Another important piece of the puzzle that is missing is why the process worked for Jered. While researchers set up the electrode implanted into Jered’s spinal cord, they don’t fully understand how the electrical stimulation was able to reactivate the dead nerves to allow the brain to once again communicate with the leg.
However, researchers are making progress in their understanding. They are beginning to discover the types of stimuli necessary for each limb and the desired movement.
When the electrical stimulator is turned off, Jered returns to complete paralysis.
The research does provide a lot of hope for the future. However, people suffering from paralysis should not take the advances as a sign that in ten years they will all be able to start running around. There are many breakthroughs still needed to get to that point.
Paralysis Is Life-Changing
With where the research is currently at, if you suffer a paralyzing injury due to an accident, you should still be prepared for life in a wheelchair. An accident claim should represent this fact. In order to get fair compensation for your injury, you should hire a paralysis lawyer in Indianapolis. A qualified lawyer will understand all of the potential costs associated with lifelong paralysis.
The possibility of researchers finding a way to beat paralysis is an exciting one. However, the research is not nearly far enough along that a court should consider paralysis to be anything other than a lifelong disability. You should be compensated for your injury accordingly.
As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. He aims to draw in the public and make people more interested in the field. He is active on multiple platforms to increase his outreach to the public. Leland tirelessly covers all types of legal issues, but he has a personal preference for medical malpractice. This is mainly because he witnessed the implications of medical malpractice on a family member.