AI-based technology has recently allowed a paraplegic man to walk again by detecting his thoughts. This revolutionary breakthrough has the potential to change the landscape of spinal cord injury claims.
The technology is still in its infancy, having only been tested on one man - Mr Gert-Jan Oskam - who sustained a spinal cord injury 11 years earlier. However, the results are astonishing. Mr Oskam was able to walk without crutches after only a year of the implant being in place, even after the device was turned off. Unlike previous advancements with spinal nerve stimulation devices, this new AI technology restored “natural” movement by creating a wireless link from the brain to the spine.
The cost is not yet known but will no doubt be eye-wateringly expensive, and it will come as no surprise when we see schedules of loss being served that include provision for AI implants. Whilst the cost and associated therapy will be a consideration, thought will also need to be given as to how increased mobility and function in these cases could potentially lead to a reduction in other heads of loss such as care and even loss of earnings.
It is still likely to be years before we see this technology included in schedules of loss; large clinical trials are needed and scientists are looking into reducing the size of the device to make it more user friendly.
Advancements offering tetraplegics the same improvements in function are even further down the line, as the technology required to restore natural hand function is even more complex. However it is being developed.
It will be interesting to see how these claims are presented once such implants becomes widely available over the coming years. In the meantime we can expect to see other significant developments as AI advances.
Katie Flatman - Spinal Injury SIG member
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