Saturday, June 10, 2023

Walking again after 12 years of quadriplegia

It is not science fiction. Neither is the airline’s publicity stunt. We are talking about an absolute scientific touchstone that will mark the first and the next in neurological diseases. Gert-Jan Oskam, a 40-year-old Dutchman who lost the mobility of his legs and arms 12 years ago from a bicycle accident; achieved the ability to walk again through voluntary motor control. Your organs respond to direct commands from your nervous system. through artificial intelligence and two implants (One of the brain and medulla) in the passo.

It is a new technique that, according to its developers, is based on a team of Swiss and French researchers called a brain-spinal interface device, which was inspired by previous work by Gregoire Courtin, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute. Technologies of Lausanne and allies. According to the magazine “Nature”, in 2018 they demonstrated that, combined with intensive training, “technology that stimulates the lower part of the spine with electrical impulses, people with spinal cord injuries have been shown to be able to walk again.”

Oskam, as described in this publication, was one of the participants of that trial, but after three years his amendments were stalled. Now this is a new system he uses the spine to put on this already installed Dutch patience and combines it with two others disk-shaped implants that are inserted into your skull as two grids of 64 electrodes against the membrane covering the brain.

So, when this person thinks about walking, “he implants a scalpel to detect electrical activity in the cortex, the outer covering of the brain. This signal is wirelessly transmitted and decoded by the Oska computer in his backpack, which then transmits the information to the spinal cord that generates the pulse.”

“The previous device was more of a pre-programmed stimulus that generated robotic stepping movements. The current one is completely different, because Gert-Ian has full control over the stimulation parameters, which means he can stand, walk, climb the stairs,” neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine says in opinions collected from “Nature”.

“Four years ago I didn’t even dream like this,” the patient explained to Efe. When asked about the complex process on his part, he pointed out that “he had to think about a natural movement after 10 years of inexperience.” “Stimulation used to control me, now I am the one who stimulates my thinking. When I decide to take a step, the simulation will be removed at the same time, showing the patient from “Nature”. “Last week, I had something to paint and there was no one to help me. So I took a walker and a drone, and I did it myself standing.”

After undergoing surgery to receive these implants, Gert-Jan was asked in a period that required months of training to imagine his legs: what he did was to convert the impulses sent to his brain into data by a series of algorithms. which will later be inserted into the spinal cord and converted into movement.

According to Efe, at first, he practiced his movements in an avatar, a digital and screen version of himself, which began to move with his thoughts, and finally took over the system of his spinal cord. “In a few minutes the Avatar could move, so we decided to try to see if it could get up, and when in the first steps we almost cried to see that it would have been so fast,” said neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch, another of the main managers.

After this the victory of scienceCourtine’s team is now rehabilitating three people to see if they can restore similar movement to the arm.. Such was the attack on the scientific community that the researchers spared no praise. The magazine “Nature” collected various evidences on this matter. So Bruce Harland, a neuroscientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, points out that this continuous improvement in spinal cord function is “great news for anyone with a spinal cord injury, because even if it’s long, it opens up the possibility of healing.” .

“It’s certainly a huge leap towards improving function for people with spinal cord injuries,” said Anna Leonard, a neuroscientist at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “There is still room for other interventions, like stem cells, to improve outcomes.” As for the risks of this technology, Jocelyne Bloch, a neurosurgeon at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who implanted the device, emphasizes that “there is always some risk of infection or bleeding, but they are so small that it is worth the risk.” If not, ask Oska.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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