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New tech may give physically disabled their sense of touch back

Imagine that you are a truck driver who has just been involved in a serious accident while transporting goods along your route. The accident leaves your spinal cord severed, taking away your ability to move your appendages and to walk.

Now consider for a moment what this would mean for your livelihood. Because science has not developed a cure for spinal cord injuries at this time, this work-related injury has left you disabled and unable to work. You may require permanent total disability payments through workers' compensation to make up for your lost wages. You may even need to file for Social Security disability benefits as well, especially if you need more financial assistance to offset medical costs and other expenses associated with your injury.

But while this might be the case now, science is getting closer to restoring much of what is lost due to catastrophic injuries such as the one above. And soon, years down the road, disabling injuries such as a severe spinal cord injury or amputation may not necessarily lead to lost work or lost wages.

Some of our Ohio readers may have heard about the scientific advancements that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration that are giving mobility back to people disabled by injuries. Unlike typical prosthetic devices though, new devices, implanted directly into the brain, now interact with a person's own brain impulses, not only driving the motion of the robotics but also giving some people back their ability to sense and feel the world around them.

Though some technology has been approved by the FDA, other devices are still awaiting approval as federal regulators discuss how best to regulate devices that require brain surgery and whether such operations are safe enough to become a more commonplace treatment option.

Even if these devices gain approval though, some people still may not be able to afford them. This means they may still need to collect compensation for their work-related injury, further necessitating the need for a skilled lawyer who is able to help them do so if need be.

Source: Nature, "US regulators move on thought-controlled prosthetics," Sara Reardon, Nov. 26, 2014

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