Tonight President Obama will continue his weeklong stint as the guest presenter on the Science Channel. On Science Presents DNews (9pmET/PT), the POTUS will talk about new research from Australian scientists who have created a “bionic spinal cord” that could give paralyzed people the hope of walking again through the power of thought.
The system relies on a device the size of a paperclip implanted in a blood vessel next to the brain. For those without a TV, you can watch Obama talk about this technology and other important research on DNews’ YouTube channel as well as the Science Channel’s website. Follow #ObamaOnDNews on Twitter to let us know what you think!
The stent-based electrode would record the brain activity needed for movement and this would be translated into commands to control wheelchairs, exoskeletons, prosthetic limbs or computers.
“We have been able to create the world’s only minimally invasive device that is implanted into a blood vessel in the brain via a simple day procedure, avoiding the need for high risk open brain surgery,” researcher Thomas Oxley said.
Oxley, a neurologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and research fellow at The Florey Institute of Neurosciences and the University of Melbourne, described the device, or stentrode, as revolutionary.
“Our vision, through this device, is to return function and mobility to patients with complete paralysis by recording brain activity and converting the acquired signals into electrical commands, which in turn would lead to movement of the limbs through a mobility assist device like an exoskeleton,” he said in a statement.
“In essence this a bionic spinal cord.”
The research, which will see the first in-human trial at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2017, was published Tuesday in Nature Biotechnology. It shows the device could record high-quality signals emitted from the brain’s motor cortex, without the need for open brain surgery, based on research using sheep.
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