Home SECURITY Paralyzed man walks again thanks to brain-spinal interface

Paralyzed man walks again thanks to brain-spinal interface

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Paralyzed man walks again thanks to brain-spinal interface

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Paralyzed man walks again thanks to brain-spinal interface

Scientists from Switzerland have created a device that restores the neural connection between the brain and muscles.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have developed and implanted a “brain-spinal interface” that creates a direct connection between the brain and spinal cord. Thanks to this device, a paraplegic was able to walk naturally again more than a decade after the injury.

The device consists of two implants: one in the brain, the other in the spinal cord. An implant in the brain monitors the person’s intentions to move and wirelessly transmits them to an external unit that the person wears on their back. The block interprets the intentions as commands, which are then sent back through the second muscle stimulation implant.

The first person to test the device was 40-year-old Gert-Jan Oskam, who was left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident in China more than a decade ago. As a result of the injury, his legs, arms and torso were damaged.

“My dream was to walk again and I believed it was possible,” Oskam said at a press conference this week. “I’ve tried many things before and now I have to learn to walk again normally, like naturally, because that’s how the system works.”

Oskam said he was able to walk at least 100 meters (about 330 feet) a day and stand without the support of his hands for several minutes. He noted that the device greatly facilitates his daily life, for example, when he needed to paint something and there was no assistant – he just got up and did it himself.

Previous research has shown that targeted electrical impulses can stimulate the areas of the foot needed for walking.

The new technology provides smoother movements and better adaptation to changing terrain, as it restores communication between two areas of the central nervous system that was disrupted due to spinal cord injury, the researchers say.

Oskam had previously implanted stimulation devices, but he had to perform a certain movement to trigger stimulation.

“Now I can just do what I want, and when I decide to take a step, the stimulation starts,” he said.

Dr. Gregoire Curtin said that this stimulation is different because Oskam has “full control over the stimulation parameters, which means he can stop, he can walk, he can climb stairs.”

After the device implantation operations, the connection between the nervous systems was established quickly. Oskam began to take steps the very next day of training.

And the connection remains reliable for more than a year, including the time Oskam spent at home. Walking on his own with the digital bridge also helped him regain enough strength to take some steps even when he was off.

The device was tested for the first time by Oskam, but the researchers see great promise in its further use. This study confirms the possibility of creating a neurological connection between the brain and the spinal cord, and the connection occurs quickly. Expanding the area of ​​this connection can also help people with paralysis of the hands and arms or who have had a stroke. But they would like to reduce the size of the system in order to make it more portable.

“The concept of a digital bridge between the brain and the spinal cord heralds a new era in the treatment of movement disorders due to neurological disorders,” the researchers wrote.

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