A study led by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has shown promise for a pair of implants that could transform the lives of individuals with paralysis. The study involved a 40-year-old man named Gert-Jan, who had been paralyzed by a biking accident over a decade ago. Gert-Jan had regained some ability to walk with the help of a front-wheel walker but had reached a “neurological recovery plateau” for the three years before enrolling in the latest test.

One of the implants tested on Gert-Jan sat above his brain, decoding electrical signals that initiated movement, and communicated with another implant connected to the part of the spinal cord responsible for triggering motion in his legs. Together, they were able to bypass the injured section of his cervical spinal cord, wirelessly reestablishing the link between his brain and body.

After a year of working with the implants and undergoing physical therapy, Gert-Jan’s walking ability had improved, and he could walk with crutches even when the devices were turned off. The researchers believe that this indicates that at least some of his neurons reorganized to restore communication.

The Brain-Spine Interface

The digital bridge implants were shown to help Gert-Jan walk and stand more naturally, without the extra wearable motion sensors used in previously tested technologies to detect and stimulate movement. In addition, the Brain-Spine Interface (BSI) introduced in this trial meant he could climb stairs and get across varying terrain, challenges that he couldn’t manage before.

The system uses a series of artificial intelligence algorithms that are able to adapt and learn with user prompting. The patient has to train the model so it can decode which brain thoughts correspond to which movements, a process that takes a surprisingly short amount of time.

While this type of system won’t work for every kind of spinal cord injury and has only been tested on one person, there’s huge potential here for using technology and AI to fill in the gaps in the nervous system caused by injury.

For Gert-Jan, the progress has been slow at times, but his quality of life has been significantly improved by the implants, which he used at home. He can now stand at a bar to enjoy a beer with friends – something seemingly small that most of us take for granted, but which means a lot to Gert-Jan and his recovery.

The study led by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has shown promise for a pair of implants connecting the brain and spinal cord that could transform the lives of individuals with paralysis. The digital bridge implants were shown to help Gert-Jan walk and stand more naturally, without the extra wearable motion sensors used in previously tested technologies to detect and stimulate movement. The Brain-Spine Interface (BSI) introduced in this trial meant he could climb stairs and get across varying terrain, challenges that he couldn’t manage before. While this type of system won’t work for every kind of spinal cord injury and has only been tested on one person, there’s huge potential here for using technology and AI to fill in the gaps in the nervous system caused by injury.

Health

Articles You May Like

The Impact of Positively Charged Hydrogels on Nerve Regeneration
Exploring the Origins of Ancient Microorganisms on Earth
The Future of Solar Power: Innovations in Concentrator Photovoltaic Cells
Identifying Workplace Burnout: The Importance of the Burnout Assessment Tool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *