A brain–spine interface: Walking naturally after spinal cord injury!

 | Post date: 2023/06/6 | 
A spinal cord injury interrupts the communication between the brain and the region of the spinal cord that produces walking, leading to paralysis. In a recent study, the researchers restored this communication with a digital bridge between the brain and spinal cord that enabled an individual with chronic tetraplegia to stand and walk naturally in community settings. This brain–spine interface (BSI) consists of fully implanted recording and stimulation systems that establish a direct link between cortical signals and the analogue modulation of epidural electrical stimulation targeting the spinal cord regions involved in the production of walking. A highly reliable BSI is calibrated within a few minutes. This reliability has remained stable over one year, including during independent use at home. The participant reports that the BSI enables natural control over the movements of his legs to stand, walk, climb stairs and even traverse complex terrains. Moreover, neurorehabilitation supported by the BSI improved neurological recovery. The participant regained the ability to walk with crutches overground even when the BSI was switched off. This digital bridge establishes a framework to restore natural control of movement after paralysis. A man paralyzed in 2011 has regained the ability to stand and walk with the help of implants placed in his brain and spinal cord. The patient, 40-year-old Gert-Jan Oskam of the Netherlands, was told he would never walk again after a biking accident. He suffered severe but partial damage to his spinal cord, which paralyzed his legs and partially paralyzed his arms.
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