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New Device Helps Get People with Paralysis Back on Their Feet

Bionic-spinal-cord-offers-new-hope-to-the-paralysed-Video-580x330

New Device Helps Get People with Paralysis Back on Their Feet

Bionic-spinal-cord-offers-new-hope-to-the-paralysed-Video-580x330

For the first time, scientists have tested a minimally-invasive brain machine interface that is designed to help control an exoskeleton with the power of thought. The device is the size of a paperclip and has been recently developed and tested at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

How it Works

The device gets implanted into a blood vessel next to the brain and can read electrical signals from the brain’s control system. Because the device is implanted through a minimally-invasive brain surgery, it helps to avoid the need for a high risk open brain surgery.

The device helps to “[record] brain activity and [converts] the acquired signals into electrical commands, which in turn would lead to movement of the limbs through a mobility assist device like an exoskeleton. In essence this a bionic spinal cord,” explains Dr. Thomas Oxley, Principal Author and Neurologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The users will have to learn how to communicate with the machinery, but that will eventually become second nature.

What’s Next

The first human trials will begin in 2017 at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. The upcoming participants will be chosen from the Austin Health Victorian Spinal Cord Unit. Scientists are hoping to achieve direct brain control of an exoskeleton for up to three people with complete paralysis.

This is very exciting news for spinal cord injury survivors and we look forward to seeing what the future holds!


 

Source:

University of Melbourne. (2016, February 8). New device to get people with paralysis back on their feet: Scientists have tested the world’s first minimally-invasive brain-machine interface, designed to control an exoskeleton with the power of thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 9, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160208124241.htm

 

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