Can you bypass an injured spinal cord?

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Offline thedoc

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Can you bypass an injured spinal cord?
« on: 25/09/2015 15:43:59 »
A man paralysed has been able to walk again thanks to a new brain-muscle interface device developed by scientists in California.

Read the whole story on our website by clicking here

« Last Edit: 25/09/2015 15:43:59 by _system »


Chris Kirtley

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« Reply #1 on: 28/09/2015 03:55:54 »
This is completely bogus. We've been using electrical stimulation for walking in paraplegia since the '80s. It's pretty impractical walking, though, and so very few people use it. One of the problems is that the technology involved is too complicated. This idea just adds another huge layer of complexity for no useful gain. I really wish the media would not report stuff like this - it just gives people false hopes.


Offline chris

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Re: Can you bypass an injured spinal cord?
« Reply #2 on: 15/02/2016 22:54:52 »
I don't agree. This work was published in a peer reviewed journal and, as such, has been scrutinised by experts in this field who felt that the study was worthy of publication.

The approach presented here is a first to couple EEG recordings to muscle stimulators in order to create walking movements. Previously, functional electrical stimulators have been used to get people moving - and even to win races in sporting events - but the combination of a brainwave-learning system with a muscle stimulator is novel.

To describe the work as bogus is unfair. The word "bogus" implies an intention to deceive and mislead; these researchers have done neither.

You can listen to the scientists who did the work describing their approach here:

« Last Edit: 15/02/2016 22:58:38 by chris »
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can you bypass an injured spinal cord?
« Reply #3 on: 16/02/2016 00:02:12 »
Friends and colleagues have been working on this sort of thing for many years.

One approach that I thought deserved more funding was literally a multiple electrical spinal patch cord: even joining nerve fibres at random, the hypothesis was that the brain would re-learn which signals triggered which movements, but it seems you need a heck of a lot of coordinated feedback to get anything like smooth movement, so you probably need to make hundreds of connections in an environment that is remarklably hostile to electronic components.

On the other hand one good friend has regained sufficient control (from almost complete paralysis) to walk and drive with a bilateral functional stimulator driven by the residual nerve impulses in her upper legs, and the success of cochlear implants clearly demonstrates the ability of the brain to interpret novel inputs. 

Behind the journalistic hyperbole, this is a serious and promising area of research.
helping to stem the tide of ignorance