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Brain implant device enables paralyzed monkeys with spinal cord injuries to walk again.


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What types of injuries could this potentially fix?

We showed that a brain-spine interface can restore walking in non-human primates with a spinal cord injury. The brain-spine interface acts as a bridge over the spinal cord injury by interpreting movement intentions from the brain signals and stimulating the spinal cord in order to reinforce those intended movements.

Confirming the effectiveness of this approach in non-human primates opens the prospects of developing and testing a brain-spine interface therapy for people with paraplegia. All the devices that were used in our study have been or are in the process of being approved for clinical use, thus making clinical trials soon possible. A future in which people with paraplegia use brain-spine interface to walk again is exciting.

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The brain-spine interface will be most effective when reinforcing the descending motor commands that survived the injury. In the majority of spinal cord injuries, some portion of the descending motor axons remain preserved. For example, large percentage of spinal cord injuries are contusions suffered in working or driving accidents, and majority of those people have some portion of descending connections spared. Potentially, all of the people with remaining descending motor axons could be helped by the brain-spine interface.

Reddit comment:

The problem I see with this is that they implant monkey before paralysis and can use machine learning to build a model of the monkey's unique representation for walking. Then they paralyze and show the monkey's can adapt to only using their interface in 5 days. There's no way the mapping from neural activity to stimulation is generalizable...

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