By: 14 December 2016
Electrodes on the brain could return sense of ‘touch feedback’ to patients with spinal cord injuries

University of Washington researchers have announced a promising discovery, that electrodes placed on the surface of the brain could help those with spinal cord injuries recover a sense of  ‘touch feedback’, an essential element in reversing paralysis.

The study, which was conducted by a team of bioengineers, computer scientists and medical researchers from the National Science Foundation’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and UW’s GRIDLab, worked with patients who had a grid of electrodes placed on the surface of their brain — more powerful than electrodes on the scalp, but less intrusive than implanting electrodes in the brain itself.

The electrodes were then attached to a glove laced with sensors. The sensors created sensory feedback by prompting more intense electrical signals on a patient’s brain when their hand was more closed, and less intense signals when their hand was more open. Researchers tested the patient’s ability to sense how open or closed their hand was based on this sensory feedback.

The study found that patients could use the feedback system to determine the position of their hand, an essential issue in returning movement to patients with spinal cord injuries.

“To our knowledge this is the first time it’s been done in a human patient who was awake and performing a motor task that depended on that feedback,” said lead author and UW bioengineering doctoral student Jeneva Cronin in a statement.

Source: Geekwire