New brain chip restores movement to paralysed limbs of primates16 November 2016
The neurotechnological development could see human spinal cord injury survivors benefit from the device in the future
Scientists have, for the first time, successfully restored movement to the paralysed limbs of two primates after developing a new brain implant.
In a study conducted by a team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, a wireless chip was implanted into the part of a paralysed monkey’s brain responsible for controlling movement. The chip in the brain deciphered the electrical signals which are usually blocked by a spinal injury and managed to bypass the damage via a spinal implant to stimulate the appropriate nerves for movement.
Within six days of implantation, the monkeys regained some control of their previously paralysed limbs and were able to walk in a straight line on a treadmill.
It is now hoped that the technological breakthrough will see human trials begin within a decade so that spinal injury survivors across the world can benefit from the device in the future.
Spinal cord damage can be caused as a result of a road traffic accident, medical negligence, an accident at work and even through sport. According to UK charity Spinal Research, more than 2.5 million people worldwide live with paralysis as a result of a spinal injury.
Christalla Christodoulidou, a serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ London office, said: “A spinal injury is invariably devastating for an individual and their families, and in some cases results in life-changing consequences requiring adaptations to homes and cars, as well as ongoing rehabilitation and support.
“This is an exciting scientific discovery, however the technology is still in its infancy and we need to be realistic that it could be years until we see a properly developed version created for humans.
“We are always keen to keep abreast of new research and technology which could in the future improve the lives of our spinal injury clients. Whilst we will be keeping a close eye on developments in this field, until a safe and medically approved device is created, our focus will remain on ensuring our clients receive the best rehabilitative care and guidance available through affiliated charities and support groups we work with, to help them manage their condition and increase their independence.”
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