Hope for paralysis patients at new high-tech rehab centre

Hope for paralysis patients at new high-tech rehab centre
PHOTO: AFP

Keio University and other organisations will launch a project to develop a next-generation rehabilitation facility that aims to help patients recover from hard-to-treat serious paralysis, it has been learned.

With support from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, the group will work on building a model facility for rehabilitation for stroke victims by using machines that help move a patients' body in accordance with their intent by detecting their brain waves.

Nineteen organisations, including Osaka University and seven domestic companies and others, will participate in the development.

The research will be conducted at a private hospital located next to Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus and is scheduled to open in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture in November.

The main feature of the project is a rehabilitation device applying a technology called the brain machine interface, which connects the brain with machinery.

Photo: The Japan News/Asia News Network

The device will be used in restoration of damaged neural circuits and detect patients' intent to move their body - in brain waves as well as cerebral blood flow - and help in conducting rote exercises to help move the paralysed parts of their bodies.

In clinical research conducted by Keio University, 29 of 42 patients who had not been able to move their fingers were demonstrated degrees of mobility after rehabilitation with the device attached.

In addition to the device, the facility is equipped with an apparatus to assist in walking by stimulating the spinal cord as well as a robotic-type suit designed to support the movements of the ankle.

There has been an increase in the number of companies and universities that are engaged in research on such next-generation rehabilitation programs.

However, this will be the first large-scale research base to be established.

Participating companies will conduct clinical research with the aim of putting the system into practical use within five years.Speech

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