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New Bionic Implant Could Lead to Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs

Posted on February 12, 2016 by Disability Help Group

Prosthetic limbs have come a long way from the first wooden pegs and hooks. Today’s artificial limbs are starting to include technology in order to make them more functional and life-like replacements for lost limbs.

One of the goals of prosthesis developers has been to make an artificial limb that an individual could control by thought, and recent developments have made that goal a very realistic one. A group of 39 scientists, researchers, and engineers spanning 16 different departments at the University of Melbourne in Australia developed the first stent electrode, or “stentrode,” for implanting in the brain and controlling a prosthetic.

The stentrode is a collapsible braid design that doctors insert in a blood vessel and then navigate to rest in a blood vessel near the motor cortex in the brain. The implantation procedure alleviates the need for open-brain surgery. Once in place, the stentrode is able to pick up high-quality signals from the motor cortex that respond to brain activity controlling movement of limbs.

The group reported in Nature Biotechnology that it is expecting to begin human trials in 2017 with three paralyzed patients controlling their exoskeletons with thought. Currently, people suffering from paralysis use joysticks to achieve exoskeleton prosthesis control. If the trials are successful, it could lead to a new line of prosthetics controlled by thought rather than external controls.

Many Health Conditions and Injuries Can Cause Limb Loss or Paralysis

Strokes and spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis and loss of limb control, while diabetes and severe trauma can lead to amputations. These are all conditions that may qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits. If you believe you qualify, contact the Disability Help Group online or call us at 1-(800)-800-3332 to schedule a consultation with our disability advocates!