This is a little different but I thought it was worth sharing with visitors. I came across this article in the CBC.ca website about a man who suffers from quadriplegia and can now, with the help of a computer and other hardware, move his hand in a controlled manner. It’s not a cure or a fix for paralysis but it is a step towards a solution.
As I understand it, a person with spinal cord injury will often be able to send a signal from their brain to make a movement and the limb, that they want to move, will be able to accept the signal but the problem is, the signal stops at the location of the spinal injury. Right now they’ve connected this fellow’s brain to a computer so that when he sends the signal to move the computer processes the signal and sends it, using wires, to sensors on the person’s arm. When the arm receives the signal it moves.
So basically, what they have done is created a new route from the brain to the arm muscles to enable movement. The eventual goal is to create a new biological route for the brain signals to take to reach the muscles that bypass the injury.
It’s not as simple as it might seem. The person has to train themselves to think about the movement consciously and has to be connected to a computer to make it work but it seems to be a step to figuring out how to get the signals from the brain and to the muscles in cases where the pathway has been cut by an injury.
This is not, and as far as I know, will never be an option for those who suffer from paraplegia or quadriplegia due to disease and it’s not something that will provide a solution to people who suffer from these conditions in the near future.
For more information see the CBC story at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/quadriplegia-hand-wrist-movements-1.3533731