A device invented by scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University may one day restore movement in people with traumatic brain injuries. It works in rats, and researchers are hopeful that the promise won't stop there.
The device is a battery-powered microprocessor designed to record electrical impulses in one part of the brain, and relay them to another part of the brain.
KU Medical Center neurobiologist Randolph Nudo and his team damaged the brains of lab rats to interrupt their ability to grab and eat food pellets. With the device turned off, the rats could get a pellet maybe one time out of five. But Nudo says when it was turned on, their feeding skills were near-normal.
“I was so surprised. I’ve not seen anything like this. I’ve been in science about three decades, and I’ve not seen anything quite so dramatic as this," says Nudo.
Nudo calls the device a game-changer. He thinks it may eventually help soldiers and others who sustain traumatic brain injuries.
“This is work that was funded by the Department of Defense, so they are particularly interested in ways that they can help injured soldiers regain function after exposure to trauma," says Nudo.
The device may also be able to help people who’ve suffered a stroke, or a brain injury from other causes.