Brain-spine ‘digital bridge’ allows spinal cord injury patient to walk — and enjoy a beer

“This simple pleasure represents a significant change in my life,” Gert-Jan Oksam said of his regained ability to stand at a bar with friends thanks to an experimental “digital bridge” between his brain and spine. [Photo courtesy of NeuroRestore]

A wireless “digital bridge” between a paralyzed patient’s brain and spinal cord has allowed him to walk naturally, researchers say.

The experimental technology uses electronic implants on the brain and spinal cord to relay leg movement control signals, allowing 40-year-old Gert-Jan Oksam to walk again 12 years after a bicycle accident.

Neuroscientists and neurosurgeons from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and University of Lausanne (UNIL) published their research in Nature last week.

“We have implanted Wimagine devices above the region of the brain that is…

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Researchers use sensor-filled robot to monitor the brain

[Image from of NewScientist/Sukho Song]

Researchers say a soft robot inserted through a tiny hole in the skull could offer effective brain monitoring and treatment.

The researchers aim to provide a less invasive approach for placing electrodes on the brain’s surface compared to traditional methods. In those traditional methods, surgeons cut a hole in the skull the size of the fully extended device. The soft robot the team developed requires only a small hole and can deploy six sensor-filled legs on the brain’s surface.

According to an article published by NewScientist, the researchers hope to prove the concept safe and effective, having successfully tested it in a miniature pig. If proven as such, it could eventually aid in monitoring and treating people experiencing epileptic seizures, among other neurological disorders.

Stéphanie Lacour of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in…

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