This medical focus' on how rehabilitation for spinal injuries has changed and improved.
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Richard Actman: And he actually puts himself within the software and he is able to perform. Dean Edell: Our bodies and brains are complex machines with the amazing ability to heal. But with spinal cord and brain injuries, sometimes a setback seems insurmountable. Now, technology is making what was once impossible, attainable, a renaissance in the field of rehabilitation. They look like the game kids love. A mouse, a pirates patch and sensory stimulation, have all found their way into the world of physical therapy. Bill Plumley: I was playing in a band for 20 some years. Dean Edell: Years of toting music equipment took a toll on Bill Plumley's body. Bill Plumley: Complete numbness from the elbow, from the shoulder to the elbow down to the hand. It's just the wear and tear as you get older. Dean Edell: What also got old was the physical therapy his doctor prescribed. Bill Plumley: I am going to go the other way. Dean Edell: Until Bill was offered virtual reality therapy. Bill's image is virtually transported into a video game that leads him through an exercise drill. Richard Actman: They had less pain while performing a game, because in their mind they were playing a game and were not as aware of the pain they were having as opposed to those where they just did regular exercise movements. Don't hit the rock, don't hit the snowman. Dean Edell: Therapist can use 25 different games to treat patients with sports injury, stroke, burns and balance problems. Bill Plumley: You working up a sweat like you won't believe. Female Speaker: Come to me baby. Dean Edell: Eric Willington is one of the 11,000 Americans who suffered a spinal cord injury last year. Female Speaker: Can you give me a little more. Eric Willington: It was a freak accident. Dean Edell: The accident left Eric unable to walk. Male Speaker: So far so good. Dean Edell: This machine called the Lokomat has him back on his feet. Peter Gorman: It is a technology that has a considerable value to people with various neurological impairments. Dean Edell: Patients are trapped into this robotic treadmill where a constant motion stimulates the spinal cord. Peter Gorman: It changes the whole equation, the whole body image, the whole functional capacity of an individual. Dean Edell: Eric uses the treadmill three times a week. Eric Willington: Once I start walking again, which I know I will, I will never forget this experience. Dean Edell: Stroke and brain injury can affect vision. Rick Lewis: I couldn't coordinate what I was seeing with eyes with my hands for so long. Dean Edell: A stroke cost Rick Lewis some of his vision. He believes this therapy helped restore his lost site. Nancy Newman: The idea is to try to rehabilitate and improve visual feel defects. Dean Edell: The makers of the Noble Vision Virtual Reality Trainer say it stimulates healthy neurons in the brain to make up for damaged ones. Patients stare at a center point and click on the mouse when a dot appears on the screen. Ric Lewis: I found that my vision had improved by approximately 14-15%. Dean Edell: Some doctors are skeptical about how and whether it works. Doctors using the systems say it's the results that matter most. Nancy Newman: Frankly, if the patient is improved in their functional daily living then that's terrific. Female Speaker: Are you going to make a sound for me? Dean Edell: One small sound is a giant leap for Chandler. Chandler's skull was crushed when he was hit by a car. After four months in a coma, he is learning to speak again. Gillian Hotz: We are hoping that it will encourage him to start saying words instead of sounds. Dean Edell: This special therapy room called Snoozle In incorporates sights, sounds, and smells to stimulate the brain and speed recovery. Gillian Hotz: It's magic! You'll see a child that will actually try and interact with these pieces of equipment in their own time, and in their own way. Dean Edell: Three months after a car accident Tarvaris is learning to move