UH News

Trial aims to help patients regain use of paralyzed limbs

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A group of engineers at Case Western Reserve University, whose goal is to help people with paralysis regain the use of their limbs, is launching a clinical trial to study a system that will measure how these people's brains communicate movement. The system, called BrainGate2, uses a small array of electrodes implanted in the brain to translate nerve firings into computer commands that, for now, can control virtual arm and hand movements on a screen. Eventually, the research team, which includes surgeons and doctors at University Hospitals Case Medical Center as well as Brown University in Rhode Island and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, hopes to use the computer commands to program the electronic stimulation of the patient's own hands and arms…People with paralysis who participate in the trial will have surgery at UH to implant a tiny electrical grid about the size of a baby aspirin into the surface of the brain at the area responsible for arm movement. The grid is then connected by a wire through the skull to an amplifier that is screwed into the top of the head. When the amplifier is plugged in, it transmits brain activity to a computer, which translates it into digital language that can interact with software programs. "This is a pretty unique technology," said Dr. Benjamin Walter, neurologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and clinical investigator for the BrainGate2 study in Cleveland. "There's really nothing like it in the world."

To read more of the Plain Dealer story, please click Braingate.

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