In 2022, technology, including artificial intelligence, is the first line of defense when treating illnesses and conditions. In this article, we’ll be looking at how AI is changing the lives of people with spinal injuries.
According to Statista, between 2020 and 2021, “there were over 12.6 thousand clinical negligence claims reported to NHS England”. A number of these were claims for compensation for a spinal injury.
Spinal injuries can be devastating but, thanks to advanced technology, new treatments are emerging all the time. In this article, we’ll be looking at how AI is changing the lives of people with spinal injuries.
What is a spinal injury?
A spinal injury, or spinal cord injury, occurs when damage is caused to the tight bundle of nerves and cells which are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the rest of the body. This damage can range in severity and, in extreme cases, can result in disability. Spinal injuries can be caused by a number of factors, including violent crime, traffic accidents, and trips and falls.
The most common type of spinal cord injuries are known as incomplete tetraplegia and paraplegia – with the former making up 65% of all spinal injuries. Many patients suffer from complete or partial disabilities, and usually require a great deal of medication, surgery or physiotherapy throughout their lives.
In many cases, victims will be eligible to claim for financial compensation. Depending on the severity of the injury, compensation can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
How is AI changing the lives of people with spinal injuries?
These days, artificial intelligence is used fairly widely in the UK medical industry in order to treat and diagnose a great number of illnesses, injuries and medical conditions. In this section, we’ll be looking at the ways in which it can help those suffering from spinal injuries:
The ChABC enzyme is one which is able to repair, to some extent, damage caused by spinal injuries. Unfortunately, this has historically been unsuitable for use as a treatment as it is not suited to the temperature of the human body. Researchers have been using AI to create copolymers which can boost the CHABC enzyme, making it suitable as a treatment for spinal injuries.
The principal investigator of the project says, ‘This study represents one of the first times artificial intelligence and robotics have been used to formulate highly sensitive therapeutic proteins and extend their activity by such a large amount. The therapy may someday help people lessen scars on their spinal cords and regain function’.
While still in its infancy, it’s thought that this treatment will almost certainly be a game-changer for those who suffer from spinal cord injuries.
Nerve stimulation devices
As many spinal injuries are caused by nerve damage, there has been a considerable amount of research in this area. Using artificial intelligence tools, researchers have developed a device for spinal injuries which has seen some incredible results.
The device, which is controlled through a tablet, uses AI to send electrical signals which target and activate pre-programmed parts of the spinal cord. Artificial intelligence then sends signals to electrodes on the device which, in turn, send signals which are able to stimulate individual nerves.
This AI-powered treatment has been developed specifically for those who have been paralysed due to damage to an area known as the thoracic spine, which is between the neck and the lowest part of the spine. The project has been so successful that three patients who were paralysed in motorcycle accidents were able to regain the ability to walk, cycle and swim. It’s also been shown that the devices can successfully treat patients whose injuries occurred some time ago; in one case, nine years.
Researchers at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland developed groundbreaking treatment for spinal injuries through cell transplantation. Researchers within the STIMO Bridge research team have created an implant containing genetically engineered cells which can be transplanted into the injured spinal cord.
Once the implant is in place, artificial intelligence devices algorithms instruct electrodes on the device to emit stimulation signals. Although patients needed extensive training on using the device, the results have been more than encouraging – with some patients immediately able to use their legs and take a couple of steps after the device was activated.
AI is helping those with spinal injuries
Spinal injuries can be devastating and life changing for victims and their families, and many seek financial compensation in order to buy the equipment and treatment that they need in order to adapt to their new life. Until recently, there were very few treatment options available for spinal injuries, leaving many victims with an extremely diminished quality of life.
Artificial intelligence is providing more than just a glimmer of hope to those whose lives have been turned upside down by a spinal injury. While the treatments mentioned in this article may not yet be widely available to patients through hospitals and clinics, the amount of development and research being conducted means that it hopefully won’t be long before those who have suffered spinal injuries are able to take advantage of treatments that will help to give them back their lives to a great extent.