Thanks to a new system called the brain-spine interface, a paralyzed monkey with primary spinal cord injuries able to walk again in less than six days after treatment. The interface was developed by an international researchers collaboration led by École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. The system uses an electric implants strategically placed helps to provide a signal that is passed through the brain and leg.
|Grégoire Courtine holds a silicon model of a primate’s brain and a brain implant. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fkzLu)|
In a statement, one study author Grégoire Courtine explained, "This is the first attempt of neuro technology to restore motor function in a primate." Nevertheless, he warned that there are many challenges ahead and may take several years before all the components of this invention can be tested in humans.
Without a serious injury, signals from the motor cortex of the brain will be forwarded to the spine in the lumbar region, which consists of a neuron tissues and stimulates the movement of the leg muscles. But if there is a lesion in the spinal cord, this communication can be interrupted and makes the brain can not receive the signal from the legs.
|A brain implant and silicon model of a primate brain. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fkydP)|
Therefore, the researchers put an array of electrodes in the motor cortex of monkey who have spinal cord injuries, to record the signals coming from the brain when the animal walks. Then the neural activity sent wirelessly to a control computer by using algorithms to identify the encoding signal of muscle flexion and muscle extension.
"The primate was able to walk after the brain-spine interface was enabled. Without physiotherapy or training is required," said co-researcher Erwan Bezard.
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