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Friday, November 25, 2016

Artificial Spinal Cord Wirelessly Restores Walking in Paralyzed Monkeys

Reversing paralysis : According to Dr. Andrew Jackson, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University in the UK, as early as the end of this decade, we may witness patients with spinal cord injuries regain control of their own two legs and walk again.
The field of brain-machine interfaces is moving so fast that blink, and you might miss the latest breakthrough. Within the past year or so, BMIs have allowed paralyzed patients to Google on a tablet with brain waves, grasp objects using robotic surrogates and control a variety of prosthetic hands and other devices. And just a few months ago, a surprisingly study showed that implants that directly stimulate the spinal cord helps paraplegic patients recover some voluntary movement of their own legs.

Yet even amongst this slew of incredible advances, Courtine’s study stands out.
By implanting a wireless neural prosthetic into the spinal cord of paralyzed monkeys, a team led by Dr. Grégoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland achieved the seemingly impossible: the monkeys regained use of a paralyzed lower limb a mere six days after their initial injury without requiring any training.
The close-looped system directly reads signals from the brain in real-time and works on the patients’ own limbs, which means it doesn’t require expensive exoskeletons or external stimulation of the patient’s leg muscles to induce the contractions necessary for walking. That’s huge: it means the system could be readily used by patients in their own homes without doctor supervision.…/Artificial-Spinal-Cord-Wirelessly… …

Cecile G. Tamura