Fighting Paralysis with Reverse Paralysis
Restoring the body movement lost due to spinal cord injuries by using brain implants increases the chances of reversing paralysis
This breakthrough discovery was done by French neuroscientist, Dr Courtine, and his colleagues. First, a successful attempt was done by Courtine and the team on a monkey. They cut halfway through the monkey’s spinal cord with the help of a blade, paralysing his right leg. Next part was to make him walk again.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Now, to achieve this, they installed a recording device beneath the monkey’s skull, touching its motor cortex, and sutured a pad of flexible electrodes around the animal’s spinal cord, below the injury. A wireless device connected the two electronic devices. The system which recorded monkey’s will to move then transmitted it in the form of bursts of electrical stimulation to its spine because of which monkey’s leg began to move. This process created a thinking process in monkey’s mind making it walk again.
A similar type of recording implanting method was used with a middle-aged quadriplegic at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. It was successful and the patient could move his hand with the help of spring-loaded armrest.
Besides Paralysis, scientists believe that they can use this neural prosthetics technique and cure blindness and even maybe someday people might be able to gain back their memories lost due to Alzheimer’s disease. Though this technology will be broadly available in next 10-15 years it is still a great breakthrough in medical science.