Federal agency grants Brown University $6.3M for device to repair neural spinal connections


The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency gave Providence, R.I.-based Brown University $6.3 million to further develop an implantable device to repair neural connections in the spine, the Brown Daily Herald reports.

What you should know:

1. The university is developing the device through a partnership with Providence-based Rhode Island Hospital, Intel Corp., and Micro Leads Medical.

2. The device can record signals from and stimulate areas below and above a spinal cord injury. The device records signals traveling down the spinal cord, which are then sent to a computer interface that decodes them. The device then creates a signal to stimulate the area around the spinal cord injury.

3. Neurosurgeon Jared Fridley, MD, said the device's bi-directional nature bypasses the injury site. By stimulating the areas below and above a spinal injury, a patient's brain can still receive sensory information from their other extremities.

4. Researchers currently have no plans to use the device in a clinical setting, but hope data gathered from its development can be used in future therapeutic devices for patients.

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