The ever-increasing technological innovation pace in medicine and related areas is most probably to provide the people currently walking this earth with opportunities impossible to imagine to the previous part of mankind. Paralyzed people have a lot taken away from them the moment the injury occurs, and even if they are eventually able to restore much of their previous spirit there is probably very few who would not want to regain the ability to walk. Now, new research puts a lot of new hope on the table regarding this issue.
There is currently a lot of time and effort spent by researchers on how to leverage recent technological breakthroughs into applicable solutions for disabled patients. The advent of more advanced machine learning and quite intelligent robotic solutions is continuously bringing uplifting news to the medical field. For instance, Mistbreaker earlier this year featured interesting articles with titles such as Researchers Report Great Progress in Wireless Brain-Computer Interfaces and Bionic Breakthrough: Functioning Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arms, that imply that there is evidentially ongoing progress within the field right now.
Now, science may soon lead the paralyzed to walking again as a new technology is making waves in spinal cord injury research. Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) have developed a tiny, ribbon-like prosthetic which overcomes previously insurmountable dilemmas where it comes to treating severe spine injuries. The implant looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but may bring a real feeling of hope to paralyzed people across the globe. Actually, The Telegraph reports that experts have called the prosthetic “quite remarkable”. Attached below is a video displaying and describing the innovation:
Great results have already been achieved within the animal world, more precisely in trials on paralyzed rats. Even though we might never find out what “accidents” paralyzed the poor little fellows in the first place, the prototype made them able to walk again. According to iDigital Times, the researchers were able to show that by chemically and electrically stimulating the spinal cord after injury, the rats could “sprint over ground, climb stairs and even pass obstacles.”
The design of the implant is a groundbreaking development in neural prosthetic research as many times the body responds negatively to such technologies. The prosthetic is implanted in soft tissue that lies across the spinal cord of the individual with paralysis. The implant then delivers a series of electrical charges and chemicals to the affected area – much in the same way living tissue would behave if not damaged. The implant is designed in such a way that it is flexible and moves comfortably with the tissue surrounding the backbone.
As a final note, it is perhaps reasonable to mention that the implant can also be used to monitor electrical impulses from the brain in real time. Thus, the researchers claim that the potential for applying these surface implants is huge, and they hope for great progress for example in combating epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and pain. According to CNET, human trials may start as early as June of this year.