Scientists make breakthrough in spinal cord injury movement

For the first time ever, a quadriplegic man has moved his paralyzed hand using only his thoughts. That simple act is being hailed as a breakthrough in the search for improved movement for spinal injury patients. While other experimenters have used computers and robotics to move paralyzed muscles, this is said to be the first human-machine interface by which a person has been able to consciously move a paralyzed limb using brain waves.

The technology involved, called Neurobridge, was developed at Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute. A thought-reading microchip was first implanted in the area of the patient’s brain that controls the muscles of the arm. The chip processes the patient’s thoughts, then transmits them to a specially designed electrode stimulation sleeve worn on his forearm, bypassing, or bridging, the spinal cord. The sleeve then converts the signals from the brain into movement by stimulating the appropriate muscles in the arm, and it does so in less than one-tenth of a second.

Neurobridge-technology-Ohio-State-Wexner-Medical-Center-Battelle-paralysis-quadriplegic-electrode-stimulation-movement-arm-EDIWeekly
The arm of a paralyzed patient fitted with the electrode stimulation sleeve that communicates with a microchip implanted in his brain, allowing him to move his hand by thought alone.

The research leader at Battelle compared the process to a heart bypass, except that instead of bypassing blood “we’re bypassing electrical signals. We’re taking those signals from the brain, going around the injury, and actually going directly to the muscles,” said Chad Bouton.

The team has worked on the Neurobridge technology for more than a decade, developing the algorithms and the sleeve to make it possible. Though still a long way off, the ultimate goal of the technology is to restore self-powered movement for brain and spinal cord injury patients.

The head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center called the development a “tremendous stride forward . . . Now we’re examining human-machine interfaces and interactions, and how that type of technology can help.”

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Cars and aerospace boosted Canada's manufacturing sales in November
  • SNC-Lavalin-China agreement could expand market for CANDUs
  • Oxygen from moondust? The European Space Agency is working on an "breathable air" plants for moon bases
  • Ford investment in Oakville gets auto industry "on the move again"
  • More warnings that Canada could miss the LNG boat
  • Unusual hydrogen car could soon be built in UK
  • FCA 2020 in Canada: Chrysler 300 to be eliminated; Pacifica to be refreshed; new electric minivan “Portal” to go into production
  • Amazon brings 800 high tech jobs to Ontario including engineers, programmers and developers
  • Strong auto exports highlight industry's importance, vulnerability to TPP
  • Compact reactor could make fusion dream a reality
  • Researchers claim breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis
  • US energy self-reliance, pipeline uncertainty put Canada's energy sector at risk
  • Safer tank cars coming as railways ship more oil than ever
  • New national aerospace consortium to foster leadership in technology
  • Renewable energy advocates optimistic, but political will is lacking
  • Wind energy on growth trend, major offshore project proposed for Nova Scotia
  • Auto Sales Down Again for Big Car Makers
  • Government investment, weakening dollar, stronger US economy could spell relief for Canada's manufacturers
  • Green building technology to grow annually by 10.12% to the year 2023
  • SAFFir is an autonomous robot firefighter being tested by the Navy for dangerous situations. Unlike other firefighting robots, SAFFir is both autonomous, and stands on two legs, with two hands to grasp fire hoses.
    Robots save lives: robot fire-fighters take on explosive situations. SAFFiR shows how they can be ultimately be autonomous.
Scroll to Top