Even after suffering a spinal cord injury that would have paralyzed most anyone else, a monkey has been able to move his arm thanks to a new procedure. According to livescience.com, since the nerves above and below the injured area of a spinal cord remain operational, researchers were able to establish an artificial electrical connection between a monkey's brain and the nerves below the injured area, thus allowing the monkey to send neural signals to its spinal cord and move its arm.
A co-author of the study, Dr. Eberhard Fetz, a Neuroscientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, has said that it is conceivable that in the distant future one could get lots of signals from the brain's cortex to trigger stimulation in different parts of the spine and begin restoring some basic functions such as the ability to grasp and some movement. Although medical science is not there yet, it is not difficult to imagine that wireless technology like bluetooth and others that we see today connecting many of our different electronic gadgets becoming adaptive to help patients suffering from spinal cord injuries connect their brains with their spines in a similar fashion.
In the past, scientists had been able to show that monkeys are able to use brain signals to control the electrical stimulation of muscles that had suffered temporary paralysis. Yet this form of direct stimulation of the muscles caused the monkeys to tire very quickly. In this case, however, researchers stimulated the spinal cord instead of the muscles. Their actions were done with the hope to restore a more coordinated and natural movement to the monkey following a spinal cord injury. This particular monkey had suffered a trauma that caused a partial paralysis of one of its upper arms and as a result, could not move its fingers.
Researchers created an artificial bridge between the brain and the spinal cord using signals recorded from the brain to control electrical stimulation. This allowed the monkey to flex his wrist muscles. Seeing that this worked, scientists then created a self-reinforcing loop by feeding the signals from the muscles back into the spinal cord. The results of the study suggest that control of the limbs may be restored if scientists/doctors are able to create an artificial connection between the brain and the spinal cord.
Other Attempts To Re-Route Signals
This is not the first attempt made by scientists to re-route electrical signals from the brain to undamaged areas of the spinal cord. In our post dated May 28, 2012, we talked about the case of a 78-year-old man with an injury to his C7 vertebrae who is now able to move his hands because his doctors re-routed some of his working nerves and connected them to an area of his spine above the the injury, allowing for communication between the brain and hands to be restored. Of course, in that case the injured area was physically "bypassed", while in the case of the monkey, the bypass was wireless.
In another case, researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago have been able to create a neuroprosthesis that combines a brain-computer interface (BCI) that is wired directly into approximately 100 neurons in the motor cortex of the patient's brain with a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device that's wired into the muscles of the patient's arm. Yet, as mentioned before, this type of direct connection to a subject's muscles creates fatigue very quickly and is therefore not the best way to accomplish movement.
We Have The Necessary Experience
Unfortunately, none of these procedures will be cheap when they become available and even those that are available now are not inexpensive. Consequently, the best hope for victims that have suffered their spinal cord injuries in accidents lies with an experienced personal injury lawyer that can help them recover the funds necessary for their rehabilitation. The lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have been handling accident cases, including those where clients have suffered spinal cord injuries, for over three decades. Please visit the Notable Cases section of our website to familiarize yourself with our work and contact us at 305-595-2400 as soon as possible.
The Lawyers of Greenberg and Stone Can Help
The lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have more than 100 years of combined experience helping victims of spinal cord injuries resulting from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, accidents at an amusement park or any other kind of accident caused by someone else's negligence recover the compensation that may be owed to them.
If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park or any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Car Accidents Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have represented many clients involved in serious motor vehicle accidents that have caused spinal cord injuries.