Bionic Limbs Would Now Move With the Power of Thought
According to a report published on Tuesday at University of Melbourne, researchers in Australia may have developed a device, not bigger than a matchstick, that could help victims of spinal injury immensely. The device would make use of thoughts to help control bionic limbs or exoskeleton, and therefore employ neuro-motor rehabilitation.
The stent-electrode recording array or stentrode would be made part of blood-vessels inside the brain. Using this stentrode, thoughts would be converted into electrical commands that could be used in moving the bionic limbs, which are otherwise controlled manually with a joystick.
The research is the result of a collaboration between the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and the University of Melbourne. The team put the current device through numerous design changes before a final design was finalised suitable to be positioned inside a blood-vessel measuring no more than one millimeter.
Paralysis is not the only physical condition this stentrode could be used in. Epilepsy and predictions of epileptic attacks in patients could also be treated using it. A foreseeable hindrance in the application of this tech would be tutoring the patients in using it.
“With our device, you’ve essentially connected an electronic limb to the patient’s brain, but they have to learn how to use it,” says Thomas Oxley, a neurologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The stentrode should be available for use by 2022 and is expected to cost close to $10,500 to $14,000.