Computational creativity and the future of AI


Researchers have created a biologically based spinal implant they say could someday provid...

Researchers have created a biologically based spinal implant they say could someday provide relief for the millions of people suffering lower back and neck pain. Instead of removing damaged spinal discs – a surgery known as a discectomy – and fusing the vertebrate bones to stabilize the spine in patients diagnosed with severe degenerative disc disease, or herniated discs, the artificial discs could be used to replace damaged discs, performing better than current implants that are made from a combination of metal and plastic.  Read More

Rob Summers, 25, in the harness that provides support while he receives electrical stimula...

In a move that gives cautious hope to the millions of people suffering some form of paralysis, a team of researchers from UCLA, Caltech and the University of Louisville has given a man rendered paralyzed from the chest down after a hit-and-run accident in 2006 the ability to stand and take his first tentative steps in four years. The team used a stimulating electrode array implanted into the man’s body to provide continual direct electrical stimulation to the lower part of the spinal cord that controls movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes, to mimic the signals the brain usually sends to initiate movement.  Read More

The active electrode book - the four slots close in around the nerve roots like the pages ...

Paraplegics may soon find it easier to exercise their leg muscles through activities such as cycling and rowing thanks to a tiny microchip implanted in the spinal canal. Dubbed the Active Book because of its booklike appearance, the microchip combines electrodes and a muscle stimulator in one unit the size of a child's fingernail.  Read More

An unregenerated tail on an untreated tadpole (top), and a regenerated tail on one that re...

In a study that could have implications for the treatment of traumatic injuries in humans, scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts have succeeded in getting tadpoles to regrow amputated tails. The researchers first noted that when the tails were cut off of young Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) tadpoles, a localized increase in sodium ions occurred at the amputation site, which allowed the tail to regenerate – something which tadpoles lose the ability to do as they mature. However, after an hour of treatment with a drug cocktail that triggered an influx of sodium ions into injured cells, older tadpoles were also able to regenerate their tails. Given that tadpole tails contain spinal cord, muscle, nerves and other materials, it’s possible that the process might someday be able to regenerate the spinal cords, or even limbs, of people.  Read More

Deep dissection of brain-stem with the corticospinal tract visible in red

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, about two percent of Americans – more than six million people – have some form of paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury, which is due primarily to the interruption of connections between the brain and spinal cord. Such paralysis and loss of function has long been considered untreatable, but a new approach has, for the first time, induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments and offering hope to sufferers.  Read More

The Spine Ergo Flow protective armor

Helmets are the obvious form of protection for cyclists, and many parts of the world have laws in place making the wearing of them while riding a bike mandatory. But with cyclists being such vulnerable targets on the roads, other protective gear is undoubtedly a good idea - and almost essential for offroaders traversing rugged terrain. The Spine Ergo Flow is a lightweight armor for your spine that is designed to decrease the likelihood of sustaining a serious spinal injury in the event of an accident.  Read More

I'm glad I'm not the one poking needles into this.

While Honda is taking a benign and non-invasive approach to the coveted brain-machine interface, British researchers are experimenting with a sensor array that is actually implanted in the brain. Dr. Jon Spratley's "multi-contact brain probe" is designed to be injected into the tissue of the brain with a fine needle, where it will sit, monitoring electrical impulses across the brain's motor cortex and relaying them wirelessly to an external device. Spratley believes the technology could unlock a range of bionic possibilities for quadriplegics, who could, for example, learn to control a wheelchair or computer mouse using the same brain commands that used to operate their arms and legs.  Read More

The Eon Mini Spinal Cord Stimulator

While nobody's exactly sure how it works, it's been clinically proven over the past 30-40 years that low levels of electrical energy, delivered straight to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord, can disrupt the signals that certain chronic pain conditions send to the brain, and replace them with a much more pleasant tingling sensation. Now, St Jude Medical has received FDA and CE mark approvals for the world's smallest and longest-lasting rechargeable neurostimulator. The Eon Mini is the size of a silver dollar, about 1cm thick (1/2 inch), and weighs only 29g (1oz). It sits under the skin of the buttock or abdomen, and its rechargeable battery should last nearly 10 years. It can be programmed by remote control to treat as many as eight different chronic pain areas and, in doing so, it can get many patients with chronic pain off morphine and back into a semblance of normal life.  Read More

The US$100 iPosture pendant

August 19, 2008 Since man decided that standing upright was a better idea than walking on all four limbs, our evolving environment and posture has created back problems for a significant percentage of the population. “Sit up straight” was certainly one of the catchcry’s of the educational system, and mum can’t always be with us to remind us of the benefits of an upright posture, so neurologist Moacir Schnapp, M.D., has created the iPosture posture improvement device. Worn as a pendant, clipped to clothing or adhered directly to the skin, the US$100 iPosture improves a user’s posture by vibrating intermittently when the user slouches and continuing to vibrate until posture is corrected.  Read More

Andara OFS Therapy for Acute Spinal Cord Injury repair

March 9, 2007 We’ve written before about Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems’ BrainGate, a brain-implant device designed to control a computer, assistive devices and eventually, limb movement. The company’s focus is neural stimulation, sensing and processing technology to improve the lives of those with severe paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders and other conditions of the nervous system. Cyberkinetics' product development pipeline includes: Andara OFS (Oscillating Field Stimulator) Therapy for acute spinal cord injury, an investigative device designed to stimulate nerve repair and restore sensation and motor function; the; and a pilot program in the detection and prediction of seizures due to Epilepsy. Cyberkinetics has now filed to market its Andara OFS Therapy for Acute Spinal Cord Injury under Humanitarian Device Exemption. Cyberkinetics recently submitted a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain market clearance for the implantable Andara OFS System, a nerve growth stimulator. If approved, Andara would be the first commercially available neurotechnology device designed to partially restore sensation and motor function in acute spinal cord injuries by stimulating nerve repair. The company sees it as its first step toward building a Nerve Repair Franchise.  Read More

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