Brain and spinal cord are involved in controlling all the activities of our daily life. Together they form a complex system called the central nervous system that controls everything related to human body functioning. They control everything, from walking and talking to breathing, digesting, and even our sensations and feelings. Injury to any part of this complex may retard normal functioning of human body. Brain and spinal cord injuries affect millions of people in the world each year, causing permanent functional impairments. These include sensory dysfunction, paralysis, and cognitive disorders.
Connecting brain with technology
In today’s smart connected world, technology has transformed the lifestyle of people. It has done so by enhancing their experience in every walk of life. From connecting with people to treating the most complicated diseases, technology has always changed the impossible into possible. Even many researchers and technology companies have collaborated with each other to connect brain function with technology. This will help the disabled people control their body functioning through assistive devices. In simple words, these devices will help control muscle activities from wearable or implanted devices. In addition , this can be another way to cure brain and spinal cord injuries.
With the same mission, the ARM technology company has collaborated with US researchers at Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), at the University of Washington. The goal is to develop implantable chips for human brain. These chips will control their motor functions artificially. Moreover, these chips will not only allow the patients with sensory-motor disabilities to carry on their tasks but will also receive sensory feedback. Sending these signals back to the brain will help people recover from serious Brain and spinal cord injuries.
ARM is designing more efficient implantable chips
Peter Ferguson, director of ARM’s healthcare technologies told BBC that they have already developed a template for the device. But now they are working to get the finest form. Recently a team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, have experimented to restore brain-controlled movement of hand and arm in a paralyzed patient. But the team at CSNE wants the implanted chip to be ultra-small, ultra-low power, and also able to provide sensory feedback to the brain.
“Not only are they trying to read the signals from the brain, but to feed something back into it”, Mr. Ferguson explained.
The first phase of the project is to let the simulator on the designed chip, implanted in the spinal cord, modulate the brain-controlled movement of body parts in neurologically impaired patients. Later this chip can be used to treat patients with serious Brain and spinal cord injuries. Also they may be used to cure strokes, Parkinson’s disease and may be at some stage Alzheimer’s too.
“When you think about people with spinal cord injuries, the ability to use technology to bridge the spinal cord to get muscles groups to move again and more – that’s the far vision,” Mr. Ferguson said.
ARM and CSNE are collaboratively developing innovative ways to help neurologically impaired people by connecting their brains with technology. In today’s world of computing and connectivity, this project is the best application of human-computer interaction for the benefit of mankind.