Moving with the power of thought

Bionic Exoskeleton, designed by Ekso Bionics. FlickrA device the size of a matchstick, implanted next to the brain’s motor cortex, could one day help paralysed people move their limbs.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health have published a paper in Nature Biotechnology released today, which describes a major breakthrough for future treatment of people with spinal cord injuries.

They have created a small stent-like device that can be implanted in a blood vessel, positioned in the area of the brain that controls motor activity. The device records neural messages (thoughts), which can be decoded and used to power technologies, such as exoskeletons.

Professor David Grayden from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering is Senior Engineer on the project, which has been funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Electrical engineering alumnus and chief engineer on the project Dr Nicholas Opie, describes the long process from the stentrode’s first iteration to the elegantly simple, yet astoundingly clever design that will be implanted in humans in 2017.

Find out more about this amazing discovery, in the Pursuit article “Moving with the power of thought”.

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