Scientists at Northwestern University have recently experimented with a device that uses natural electrical signals from the brain to induce movement in hands that have been paralyzed. The experiments have been conducted on monkeys. However, the researchers believe that these devices can be used in the future to help persons who have suffered spinal injuries too.
The scientists used a device called a ‘multi-electrode array’ that was implanted in the monkeys to study the electrical signals released when the monkey performed certain activities using the hands. The monkeys were then administered a nerve block to induce paralysis in the hands. The researchers then used the device to pick up these electrical signals, decipher them, and transmit them to the muscles, thereby helping the paralyzed muscles to move.
It’s not just the concept of a brain-machine interface used to help persons with paralysis that is so fascinating to Boston car accident attorneys. It’s also the fact that the monkeys were able to grasp objects at almost the same levels of dexterity that existed before their limbs were paralyzed. The researchers believe that it is highly possible that over the next few years the same technique will be made sophisticated enough to be used in human beings too.
These experiments are also encouraging to Boston personal injury lawyers, because they seem to promise additional dexterity for persons with a spinal cord injury, compared to the kind of movement that these persons could have expected with conventional physical therapy and rehabilitation programs. In other words, the kind of hand movement a person experiences with a device like this seems to be similar to the natural movement of the arm, and could mean a much better quality of life for patients with spinal injury.