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How augmented reality can help those with spinal cord injuries

New treatments for people with spinal cord injuries are being developed all the time. People who have suffered these injuries may get back movement they never thought possible some day in the future.

That future is now for those with some spinal cord injuries and other conditions that limit their mobility thanks to augmented reality (AR). AR has some similarities to virtual reality (VR) -- a term that most people are more familiar with. Sometimes these terms are used together. However, they aren't the same thing.

As one physical therapist explains, "Augmented reality is a mix between what's real and what's not real." Computer-generated images are superimposed over the actual environment. For example, using special goggles, a patient may follow a character like Pac Man through a room using steps, varying grades and obstacles to help improve their movement. The therapist calls it a "game-changer."

One spinal cord injury patient who follows Pac Man around via AR says that in this case, the goal "is to improve my gait and my stride, by keeping certain speed." He hopes to eventually "get off the use of crutches and just be more independent in my day-to-day living."

Researchers who are working on adapting AR technology to help patients regain movement they've lost say that they're still in the early phases of their work. However, they're optimistic about the future.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash or other type of accident that someone else was responsible for, determining how much compensation to seek in a civil action is a crucial part of the legal process. No one can predict what therapies and treatments will be available in the future. Therefore, it's essential to seek the amount of compensation that will help victims and their families take full advantage of new treatments when they become available.

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