Share this story!
- A 40-year-old Dutch man, paralysed in a cycling accident, has regained the ability to walk with the help of innovative electronic brain implants.
- Elon Musk's brain-implant startup, Neuralink, has recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its first-in-human clinical trial.
- These breakthroughs, although in the experimental stage, signal a future where brain implants could potentially restore function and independence to many.
A step forward in neurotechnology: Paralysed man walks again
In a medical first, a Dutch man, Gert-Jan Oskam, paralysed for 12 years following a cycling accident, has regained his ability to walk. This incredible achievement is thanks to cutting-edge electronic brain implants, which wirelessly transmit his thoughts to his legs and feet via a second implant on his spine.
Swiss researchers at Lausanne University have pioneered this revolutionary technology. The delicate surgery required to insert the implants was performed by Prof Jocelyne Bloch, who sees this as just the beginning. She aims to transition this technology from the lab to the clinic, providing more people with spinal cord injuries access to it.
While this technology is still at an experimental stage, it has been celebrated as "very encouraging" by the UK charity, Spinal Research.
Brain implants: A new dawn in medical science
Following the operation, Gert-Jan underwent a few weeks of training. With the aid of a walker, he can now stand, walk, and even climb stairs. Gert-Jan's newfound ability to control his movement has changed his life, allowing him to regain a level of independence that many take for granted.
This technology builds upon previous work involving spinal implants to restore movement. The Swiss team, led by Prof Grégoire Courtine of the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, has taken the technology a step further. Courtine's aim is to miniaturise the technology and commercialise it for everyday use, offering potential for recovery, particularly if applied soon after an injury.
Neuralink's milestone: FDA approval for human trials
Adding to the developments in neurotechnology, Elon Musk's brain-implant startup, Neuralink, has recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its first-in-human clinical trial.
Musk envisions that these brain implants could potentially treat a range of conditions including obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia, as well as facilitate web browsing and telepathy. With FDA approval, Neuralink is now one step closer to making this vision a reality.
The potential of slowing progress in AI and neurotechnology
This progress in neurotechnology illustrates the essential role that advanced technologies like AI play in modern medical research and treatment development.
Should the progress of these technologies be halted or slowed down, the rate of such pioneering discoveries would likely decelerate.
News tips: Thomas Ahlström & Tomas Wahlgren