Revolutionary brain-computer interface offers hope to paralysed patients

2 August 2022

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

A 48-year-old patient in New York City has become the first to receive a permanent brain implant that could allow him to communicate telepathically. He is unable to move and speak due to severe paralysis from ALS. The Hill reports:

In recent years, experimental brain-computer interface (BCI) technology has made progress toward giving severely paralyzed patients hand-free control of computers by using only their thoughts. And now for the first time in the U.S., a patient who suffers from ALS has successfully received a permanent endovascular BCI implant as part of a landmark study.

Australian-based startup Synchron was given the greenlight last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct an early feasibility study of its flagship BCI product, the Stentrode, to assess the safety and efficacy of the device in six ALS patients with severe paralysis, meaning no functional use of muscles in their arms or their legs. The trial is being conducted with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Neural Interfaces Program.

Earlier this month, doctors at Mount Sinai West in New York successfully pulled off the procedure and said the patient was able to go home just 48 hours after surgery. The goal is to ensure the device can be safely implemented, as well as to see if patients can carry out simple functions such as point and click with a computer using only their brain signals.

Unlike other proposed brain-computer interfaces, Synchron’s BCI technology doesn’t require open-brain surgery or any drilling into the skull. Instead, it can be put in place in a minimally invasive surgery that takes only about two hours.

“The first-in-human implant of an endovascular BCI in the U.S. is a major clinical milestone that opens up new possibilities for patients with paralysis,” said Dr. Tom Oxley, CEO & Founder of Synchron, in a statement. However, it may take some time before doctors can offer Synchron’s BCIs to patients.

A Brain Implant Could Help Patient With ALS

A Brain Implant That Turns Your Thoughts Into Text | Tom Oxley | TED

Brain Implants are Here: Blackrock’s Neuroport & Synchron’s Stentrode

Introducing the Stentrode™ – a small brain device proving a big game changer for paralysed patients

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