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

  • Membraneless flow battery shows great promise for cheaper energy storage
  • Robot from Oil & Gas Technology Centre may improve safety, enhance productivity and reduce costs for offshore oil and gas projects
  • Guidelines released for self-driving cars by Trump administration: "future of safety and mobility" according to some; recipe for "disaster" say others
  • Giant wind-solar development announces SMA Canada for O&M
  • Trucking industry moving toward use of EOBRs
  • $2 Billion expansion of Nova gas pipeline planned by TransCanada Corp to increase pipeline capacity
  • New MRO operation rising in former Aveos plant
  • Solar energy a good investment, claims World Economic Forum
  • Two firsts for Ontario as energy storage systems certified
  • Canadian Solar to supply solar mega-projects in Ontario and Turkey
  • Wind energy on growth trend, major offshore project proposed for Nova Scotia
  • Cars with “Nerves”? Self diagnostics and magnetostrictive material may deliver cars with feeling.
  • Alberta to allow increased production of 25,000 barrels of oil per day in April; eases mandatory production cuts
  • SWISS inaugurates commercial flights of Bombardier's CS100
  • Technology that could help save the earth: Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Oil drags capital spending down, though some bright spots remain: Statistics Canada
  • Government pledges continued support as National Mining Week begins
  • The big picture: How 5G will change industry forever — 4th industrial revolution?
  • 3D printed hempcrete could revolutionize construction industry
  • Windsor's good fortune with Chrysler hiring tempered by TPP concerns
Scroll to Top