Neuroprosthetics Offer Solution to Patients With Spinal Cord Injuries

For the hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from a spinal cord injury, neuroprosthetics may offer a solution.  This technology allows these patients to heal using the power of their own minds.

“This technology allows these patients to heal using the power of their own minds.”

Brain-computer interfaces (BCI), specifically, involve electrodes placed either on the skull or somewhere on the brain tissue for the monitoring of brain activity.  It can track brain activity when someone thinks.  This is then translated to a code that is fed into a computer which transforms these codes into a command for movement.  Basically, this is the movement like your brain would normally tell your body to do only it goes through an extra step before producing movement.

Neuroprosthetics have proven useful for those who can’t move their arms or legs.   They even help with sensory disabilities like hearing loss or blindness.  For those with hearing loss, cochlear implants bypass the damaged part of the ear and manually stimulate the auditory nerve through electrodes.

For patients with eye implants, they restore vision enough to distinguish shapes by turning images into pixelated images which are transformed into electrical signals that eventually stimulate the brain’s optic nerve.

With this amazing power of neuroprosthetics, researchers from the Australian National University asked if this technology could be used for the brain itself…in other words, they literally want to create functional neurons.  Dr. Vini Gautam from ANU and his collegues actually created a scaffolding to allow brain cells to grow and connect synaptically.  Dr. Vincent Daria, explained, “We were able to make predictive connections between the neurons and demonstrated them to be functional with neurons firing synchronously. This work could open up a new research model that builds up a stronger connection between materials nanotechnology with neuroscience.”

Neuroprosthetics may be the solution to debilitating neurological disorders.

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