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Microscopic Brain Implants May Help Paralyzed People

Dec 13, 2016 09:22 AM EST
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Cell Transplant Helps Paralysed Man Walk with Frame

New technology in medicine and surgery has shown the ability of microscopic brain implants to help people with paralysis in the future. There has been ongoing new research on brain damage and brain implants in the recent years and this new technology is probably one of the most promising yet. Known as the Microcoil, it has the ability to stimulate neurons that can target and control certain cells in the body.

According to the description on its patent, existing Deep Brain Simulations are usually controlled by programmable current pulse generator. Through electrodes, which must be directly in contact with the brain, electrical impulses would be sent to certain brain sites. Not only is this method limited, it could also provide unavoidable hazards.

The Microcoil is a microscopic implant which is surgically inserted to the part of the brain which is called the cortex. It is best known for deep brain stimulation which produces magnetic fields and stimulate targeted areas of the brain to possibly improve brain activity. A study published in Popular Science describes these microcoil as 'neural prosthesis' made of thin wires, or tiny metal coils with sharp bends which is a significant improvement from the old electrode-based implants. Instead of using current pulses, or electrical impulses, magnetic waves are released from the microcoil, similar to how a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or MRI) works.

A report from ReliaWire has indicated that these magnetic microcoils are more precise and have numerous benefits. Compared to electrode-based implants, these coils are more durable as there would be no need to create direct contact between tissue and coil. Furthermore, it also has the ability to penetrate through scar tissue which makes it more flexible than its predecessor.

This particular brain implant aims to study and, possibly, treat neurophysiological conditions such as blindness, eye damage, paralysis and Parkinson's disease. It also aims to help treat other disorders and illnesses such as depression and drug addiction.  

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