This First-Ever Brain Implant Will make it Possible for Paralyzed Patients to Communicate

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This means one thing—it is actually a mind-reading device.

Whether from a stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or for some other reason, many patients have lost their ability to talk or seemingly respond in any manner to their loved one’s efforts to communicate. Some people are left paralyzed after suffering from a severe stroke or accident, and are no longer able to communicate with others.

We need to remember that someone who cannot talk is very vulnerable. The person can’t say what feels good or what s/he doesn’t like. Fortunately, a new brain implant in the Netherlands is about to make communicating with paralyzed people possible.

A woman from Netherlands will be the first to be fitted with the said new type of brain implant that will allow her to communicate with others through her ‘thoughts’. The new implant, which works with a computer interface to help her spell out words and sentences, can be used anywhere, allowing her to communicate with people in the outside world, without medical experts on hand to help.

Neuroscientist and lead researcher Nick Ramsay, from the University Medical School Utrecht said:

‘This is a world first. It’s a fully implantable system that works at home without need for any experts to make it work.’

He added: ‘Somehow, they never really break through into clinical application. Nobody made the step to make it work at home.’

Hanneke de Bruijne was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2008, and soon her nerve cells completely gave way. She will be the first person to be fitted by the new brain implant.

The device will be surgically implanted into the brain. An electrodes will be placed over the motor cortex region of the brain, which controls movement; and the other is placed over the part of the brain that kicks into gear when you want to count backwards.

The signals are fed by wire to a device implanted on her chest. When she imagines moving her hand, the sensor triggers a mouse click. The electrodes then pass this signal on to the transmitter, to be passed on to the computer program.

Through the device, Hanneke says: ‘My dream is to be able to drive my wheelchair.’

“She has had [the device] for a year now, and says that it is part of her, and she uses it a couple of times a week” says Ramsey. “She didn’t expect that it would turn out to mean so much to her.”



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