Brain stimulation implant tested in humans

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have tested the Stentrode, a device designed to record brain activity and stimulate it, in humans for the first time. It has helped people with motor neuron disease.

In some diseases, people are unable to move due to neuronal damage. Now scientists have tested an implant that solves this problem. To install it, you don’t even need to create a hole in the skull.

The Stentrode device was first introduced to the general public back in 2016. Then researchers from Australia demonstrated the work of a new type of implants in sheep. Scientists wanted to create a method of recording brain activity and electrical stimulation of its areas, which would not require complex surgical operations.

Stentrode is inserted through a small incision in the neck and then through the superior sagittal sinus (a duct filled with venous blood) to the motor cortex. The new implant is quite large – about a match – but rather easily inserted into the vessel, since, in fact, it is a stent, usually used to expand the lumen of blood vessels. Researchers developed Stentrode specifically to record activity and stimulate the motor cortex to help people paralyzed by motor neuron disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

Previously, scientists have successfully tested the device on sheep and showed that it partially restores the motor functions of previously paralyzed animals. Now researchers completed human trials. Two men from Australia volunteered for the trial, paralyzed by motor neuron disease. The implant records the brain activity of the patients and transmits the data wirelessly to a small receiver worn on the chest. The receiver transmits the data to the computer, which converts the signals into commands on the screen.

During the entire clinical trial, both patients were able to perform actions that were previously inaccessible to them – use a computer mouse and type at a speed of up to 20 characters per minute. Scientists originally wanted to use Stentrode to control medical exoskeletons. The integration of these technologies will be the next stage of research. Scientists do not report the possibility of removing the stent from the sinus.


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