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Home Industry News Scientists restore movements to paralysed limbs

Scientists restore movements to paralysed limbs

16th October 2008

Scientists have demonstrated that a direct artificial connection from the brain to the muscles can restore voluntary movement in animals whose arms have been temporarily anaesthetised.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Nature today, claim the results could have positive implications for those suffering from spinal cord injures and paralysing neurological diseases.

“This study demonstrates a novel approach to restoring movement through neuroprosthetic devices, one that would link a person’s brain to the activation of individual muscles in a paralysed limb to produce natural control and movements,” said Joseph Pancrazio, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

In the study, the researchers trained monkeys to control the activity of single nerve cells in the motor cortex and detected neuronal activity using a type of brain-computer interface.

Electrodes implanted in the motor cortex of the monkeys were then connected via external circuitry to a computer. The neural activity led to movements of a cursor, as monkeys played a target practice game.

During their tests, the researchers temporarily paralysed the monkey’s wrist muscles using a local aesthetic to block nerve conduction.

They then converted the activity in the monkey’s brain to electrical stimulation delivered to the paralysed wrist muscles. The monkeys continued to play the target practice game, but the cursor movements were now being driven by actual wrist movements – demonstrating that they had regained the ability to control the otherwise paralysed wrist.

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