A Wireless Way to Walk Again

A study of how electric signals transfer to the brain offers hope for people with spinal cord injuries.

 

Wireless signals can do more than just transfer data. According to a new study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the transfer of electric signals to the brain can also restore the ability to walk.

An article in Tech Times outlined details of the study, which was conducted by neuroscientists on primates in order to analyze how brain signals are transferred to leg muscles. Then they recreated the electric signals on monkeys with severed spinal cords. A series of microelectrodes implanted in the brain of the monkeys received and decoded signals associated with leg movement. The electrical signals were transmitted via a wireless device, which actually “reanimated the legs of the monkeys into motion.”

The study offers hope for humans with spinal injuries who still have nerve fibers intact. “Theoretically, if the implant reestablishes a link between the brain and the spinal cord, it could help the remaining nerve fibers to strengthen connections. This could ultimately lead to recovery of locomotive functions.”

Two of the monkeys in the study fully recovered mobility after three months.

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