Neurological diseases or spinal cord injuries can interfere with the way the brain and limbs work together. Signals from the brain may not be able to reach the limbs, and for patients with conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) or paralysis, this severely limits activity and movement. Fortunately, though, a thought-controlled prosthesis could be on the horizon!
By working with monkeys in the laboratory, researchers observed the animals performing normal hand and arm movements, and they studied the corresponding electrical patterns in the brain. By understanding the interactions between brain neurons during these normal activities, researchers were able to program this thought-controlled prosthesis to behave as accurately as possible.
Now, the hope is that this technology could help patients with ALS and spinal cord injuries. Thanks to the background research in animals, the research team recently gained approval from the FDA to conduct trials in humans with spinal cord injuries. Let’s hope it works! Read more about this research here.