Global Health News
Brain WiFi Reverses Leg Paralysis In Primates
Condensed by L.D. Ramirez (sourced from a BBC News / Nature article by James Gallagher)
An implant that beams instructions out of the brain has been used to restore movement in paralysed primates for the first time, say scientists.
Spinal cord injuries block the flow of electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body, resulting in paralysis. It is a wound that rarely heals, but one potential solution is to use technology to bypass the injury.
Rhesus monkeys were paralysed in one leg due to a damaged spinal cord. A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology bypassed the injury by sending real-time instructions straight from the brain to the nerves controlling leg movement.
A chip was implanted into the part of the monkeys' brain that controls movement. Its job was to read the spikes of electrical activity that are the instructions for moving the legs and send them to a nearby computer.
It deciphered the messages and sent instructions to an implant in the monkey's spine to electrically stimulate the appropriate nerves.
The results, published in the journal Nature, showed the monkeys regained some control of their paralysed leg within six days and could walk in a straight line on a treadmill.
Jocelyne Bloch, a neurosurgeon from the Lausanne University Hospital, said: "For the first time, I can image a completely paralysed patient being able to move their legs through this brain-spine interface."
Experts said the technology could be ready for human trials within a decade.