Improved mobility to people with damaged spinal cord

New York, Feb 19 (IANS) Researchers have developed an electrode that is more durable and could allow for improved restoration of mobility after spinal cord accidents, as well as improved powered prosthetic limbs.

This “glassy carbon” electrode that is patterned inside chips lasts longer in the body and transmits clearer and more robust signals than available electrodes.

When people suffer spinal cord injuries and lose mobility in their limbs, it is a neural signal processing problem. The brain can still send clear electrical impulses and the limbs can still receive them but the signal gets lost in the damaged spinal cord.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, this new chip can record neural electrical signals and transmit them to receivers in the limb, bypassing the damage and restoring movement.

“Glassy carbon is much more promising for reading signals directly from neurotransmitters. You get about twice as much signal-to-noise. It’s a much clearer signal and easier to interpret,” said Sam Kassegne, one of the study’s lead investigators.

The current material for electrodes in these devices is thin-film platinum which can fracture and fall apart over time.

Researchers in Kassegne’s lab are using these new and improved brain-computer interfaces to record neural signals both along the brain’s cortical surface and from inside the brain at the same time.

–IANS

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