A group of Australian scientists led by Dr. Nicholas Opie has developed an implantable brain-machine interface that will help people with spinal cord injury regain the ability to move.
The implant consists of a stent based on an electrode known as a “stentrode” placed in a blood vessel of the brain, as well as a power source and a transmitter inserted under the skin in the front of the shoulder. A new system, introduced into the body in a non-invasive way, can transform brain impulses into a specific movement of a prosthesis or exoskeleton.
The work of the bionic device is based on probing certain types of nervous activity and transferring the received information to the processor, which then transmits control signals that drive the limbs of the patient with the help of an exoskeleton or individual prostheses of hands or feet.
The device in size does not exceed a paper clip. It is implanted in the brain with a catheter through the femoral artery. The implant is made of nitinol, an alloy of titanium and nickel. The first operation is to be held at the Royal Hospital of Melbourne in 2017. Positive results were achieved in preclinical tests on sheep.
It is assumed that the first candidates for the operation will be young people with severe spinal cord injuries received from six months to a year before implantation. In the opinion of specialists, they will be able to pass the restoration phase faster.