Wi-Fi being used to reverse leg paralysis in primates

November 28, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

For many car accident or workplace accident victims who suffer spinal chord injury, paraplegia represents an almost insurmountable change in life. Full or partial paraplegia results in a loss of independence, and the acceptance by the patient of a lifetime of assisted living. Depending upon whether the spinal chord injury is complete or incomplete there may be some ability to move or have sensation.  Much research is now being done in the reversal of spinal chord injury impacts.

In the case of spinal chord injury, the injury itself rarely heals, making it nearly impossible to regain movement or sensation. Researchers determined that it would be easier to bypass the point of injury in the spine using modern technology.

New research from the lab of Gregoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has been focussing on the restoration of movement in paralyzed primates. The research is currently focussed on rhesus monkeys that have been intentionally injured. The monkeys are then implanted with a chip in their brain, and a bundle of electrodes below the point of injury in the spine. The chip then transmits electrical signals from the brain to the electronic bundle stimulating muscle movement.

The chip is implanted in the part of the brain that controls movement, and it senses the electrical spikes in the brain’s movement centre. In real time the chip sends the messages via Wi-Fi to the monkey’s back legs. The trials have found that the monkeys regain control of their paralysed back legs in under a week walking on a treadmill in a straight line.

Researchers caution that although the implant technology is similar to work already being done in human Parkinson’s patients, humans have a much more complex muscular system for walking on two legs. Human trials will not likely occur for another decade. Brainwave technology is already being used to overcome other forms of paralysis, and in the field of prosthetics. Electrical stimulation has helped people walk using devices such as exoskeletons. Much of the research is funded through the military due to the increasingly large proportion of soldiers returning home alive but with serious spinal chord injuries and amputations.

You can read a great article that more fully expands on the subject in Smithsonian Magazine and it’s available here.

image courtesy of G-Lab,  http://courtine-lab.epfl.ch/

Posted under Paraplegia, Personal Injury, Quadriplegia, Spinal Cord Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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