Switzerland researchers advance smart neuroprosthetics for paralysis treatment — 6 observations

Written by Megan Wood | March 13, 2017 | Print  |

Switzerland-based Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne researchers are studying intelligent neuroprosthetics with the potential to help those with neurological dysfunction.

Here are six observations:


1. Dr. Grégoire Courtine demonstrated paralyzed primates could walk with the help of a smart neuroprosthetic system, "brain-spine interface." The interface decodes brain signals and stimulates the spinal cord to contract leg muscles for a walking motion.


2. Also, Dr. Courtine found paralyzed rats could recover from spinal cord injuries with a few weeks of rehabilitation, leveraging electro-chemical stimulation and physiotherapy with a robotic harness.


3. Clinical trials are testing the spine aspect of the brain-spine interface on people with partial paralysis in clinical trials.


4. As opposed to working toward spinal cord neural regrowth, Dr. Courtine studies the plasticity of the nervous system.


5. The neuroprosthetic protocols feature implantable electrodes equipped with the ability to read neural activity, stimulate nerves and bypass nerve injury for biological function restoration.


6. These electrodes, however, often lead to inflammation and tissue aggravation when implanted. To fix this problem, Dr. Stéphanie Lacour designed e-Dura implants, flexible electrodes that conform to the body with the intention of lessening inflammation.


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