A “neural bypass” routes signals around the damaged spinal cord, potentially restoring both movement and sensation
In 2015, a group of neuroscientists and engineers assembled to watch a man play the video game Guitar Hero. He held the simplified guitar interface gingerly, using the fingers of his right hand to press down on the fret buttons and his left hand to hit the strum bar. What made this mundane bit of game play so extraordinary was the fact that the man had been paralyzed from the chest down for more than three years, without any use of his hands. Every time he moved his fingers to play a note, he was playing a song of restored autonomy.
For a brain-computer interface (BCI) to be truly useful for a person with tetraplegia, it should be ready whenever it’s needed, with minimal expert intervention, including the very first time it’s used. In a new study in the Journal of Neural Engineering, researchers in the BrainGate collaboration demonstrate new techniques that allowed three participants to achieve peak BCI performance within three minutes of engaging in an easy, one-step process.
One participant, “T5,” a 63-year-old man who had never used a BCI before, needed only 37 seconds of calibration time before he could control a computer cursor to reach targets on a screen, just by imagining using his hand to move a joystick.
First recipient of implanted brain-recording and muscle-stimulating systems reanimates limb that had been stilled for eight years.
In a hospital in Switzerland, permanently paralyzed people are now learning to walk again with the help of stimulating electrodes implanted in their spines. For Grégoire Courtine, professor of neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), this day has been a long time coming. “It took us 15 years to get from paralyzed rats to the first steps in humans,” he says. “Maybe in 10 more years, our technology will be ready for the clinic.”
Courtine has made it his mission to reverse paralysis. He started 15 years ago with those paralyzed rats, putting tiny electrical implants into their spines to stimulate nerve fibers below the site of their spinal cord injuries.
In a Stanford-led research report, three participants with movement impairment controlled an onscreen cursor simply by imagining their own hand movements.
A clinical research publication led by Stanford University investigators has demonstrated that a brain-to-computer hookup can enable people with paralysis to type via direct brain control at the highest speeds and accuracy levels reported to date.
A wireless brain-computer interface capable of transmitting thought commands to digital devices is close to commercialisation following more than a decade of development.
The BrainGate Neural Interface System, engineered by researchers at Brown University in collaboration with Utah-based company Blackrock Microsystems, works through a small brain implant “about the size of a baby aspirin” that attaches to a person’s skull and streams thought commands through radio signals.
People who have lost their limbs may no longer fear the prospect of paralysis, if researchers manage to perfect a wireless brain implant.
Research by BrainGate, a program that pools research from several universities, is drawing closer to allowing paralyzed patients use of their limbs through the implant.
A paralyzed man will receive experimental surgery connecting a brain chip to systems that activate muscles in his arm.
Doctors will attempt to reanimate a patient’s paralyzed arm with a pioneering surgery that involves capturing signals from his brain and restoring movement through a fine network of electronics linked to arm muscles.
The new effort, being planned by researchers at Case Western Reserve University, will use a brain computer interface, or BCI, developed by researchers at Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital.