Brain Thoughts Implant Lets Man With Locked-In Syndrome Communicate With the World
Imagine not being able to communicate with anyone, even though you’re conscious and you can think, remember and reason. This is the reality of those individuals who suffer from Locked-In Syndrome, a syndrome caused by brainstem stroke or lesion involving the brainstem that results in paralysis while still allowing the individual to be conscious and aware. Through a recent medical breakthrough, one man with Locked-In Syndrome was able to communicate with his family again using a brain thoughts implant.
What is Locked-In Syndrome?
Locked-In Syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by brainstem stroke or lesion. It is characterised by complete paralysis of voluntary muscle movement but it does not affect the patient’s mental capacity and ability to understand others. It results in inability to move any voluntary muscle, but only parts of the face can be twitch just slightly. Individuals with Locked-In Syndrome can move their eyes and can still understand speech and language. In terms of communication, this syndrome leaves patients in a heart-breaking situation as they cannot speak or use any complex body gestures, completely locked in their own body.
Can Technology Change Lives of Locked-In Syndrome Patients?
Until now, the only way that these individuals could communicate with the world was by blinking or by gazing directions to indicate “yes” or “no” answers to questions. This is obviously very limiting, and it makes it impossible for them to have meaningful conversations or be engaged in discussions. But a new revolutionary device could change the lives of these individuals.
How Does This Brain Thoughts Implant Work?
Scientists have developed an innovative brain controlled thoughts implant, called the “Neurobridge.” It is a device composed of four parts: a small array of electrodes that is implanted into the patient’s brain, specialised software, an external computer and a robotic arm which will be mounted on the patient’s wheelchair. This device essentially enables the patient’s thoughts to control the robotic arm and interact with the external world.
The implantation of the electrodes is a delicate procedure that requires neurosurgeons to remove a small portion of the patient’s skull, exposing the temporal lobe. Then, the electrodes are carefully placed within the right hemisphere of the brain and connected to the external computer with a specially designed micro-USB cable. This process, although invasive, is much less invasive than traditional brain surgery, as it only removes around 1 cm of the skull.
How Can It Help With Communication?
The electrodes pick up signals generated by the neurons, and these signals are then translated into commands by specialised software. The commands are then sent to the external computer, which analyzes the command and sends it to the robotic arm. The robotic arm, in turn, is equipped with a finger mouse which is used to open and click a program or website.
This way, the patient is able to control the robotic arm and interact with the external world by typing commands, words or sentences in the computer program. This revolutionary device enables individuals with Locked-In Syndrome to communicate with their family, friends or even medical staff in a more natural way.
Recent Case of Patient with Locked-In Syndrome Who Received the Treatment
Recently, a 45-year-old man with Locked-in Syndrome, Nathan Copeland, has been the first patient to receive this revolutionary technology. Copeland lived in the US state Pennsylvania, and was the first person in the world to be treated with this device.
The implantation procedure of the electrodes and the installation of the robotic arm was completed without any complications and the patient is doing very well post-surgery. The device has enabled Nathan Copeland to communicate with his family and medical staff in a more natural way than before.
Benefits of the Brain Thoughts Implant For Those With Locked-In Syndrome
This groundbreaking device enables individuals with Locked-In Syndrome to transcend their limitations and finally communicate with the wider world. With this technology, these individuals will be able to resume their life as a functional member in their family and in the society.
The biggest benefits of the brain thoughts implant are as follows:
• Enhanced Communication: With this device, individuals with Locked-In Syndrome can communicate with the world through entering commands into the computer. They no longer need to communicate with others by blinking or gazing direction, which is very limiting and tiresome.
• Improved Quality of Life: With the help of this device, these individuals can interact with the external world, forming meaningful relationships and having natural conversations. This will significantly improve their quality of life and enable them to live a more dignified life.
• Self-reliance: With this device, these individuals can take control of their own life, instead of relying on others to take decisions on their behalf.
Recent medical advances have made this device a reality and have enabled a first Locked-In Syndrome patient to be able to interact with the external world without relying on only minimal movements of parts of the face. This is a breakthrough in the field of neuroscience, and this device will improve the life of thousands of locked-in individuals, helping them communicate with the world and regain the self-reliance that was taken away from them.