Brain chip that could herald the end of paralysis
London: British engineers are developing new technology that would soon allow paralysed patients to operate bionic limbs with the aid of implanted brain transmitters.
The technology uses tiny microchips to sense nerve messages, decode the signals, and turn thought into movement.
Scientists believe within the next five years patients with damaged spinal cords would be using robotic devices that will allow them to move their arms or legs at will.
Spinal cord injuries cause paralysis by cutting off the connection between the brain and limbs.
However, such patients still possess the ability to "think" commands from the brain, according to Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, who heads a University of Leicester team working on the project.
"The guy can see the object he wants to reach, the guy can have the intention to reach to the object, the brain can send a command to the arm - ``reach for this cup of tea`` - but the signal gets broken at the level of the spinal cord," The Scotsman quoted Quiroga, as telling the Engineer magazine.
He added, "If we can get the signals from these neurons and interpret them with what is called decoding algorithms, then we can move a robot device placed on the paralysed arm."