Potential Brain-Machine could be Effective Treatment for Hand Paralysis

Combining brain stimulation with a robotic device could help restore hand function in stroke patients. 

A brain-machine interface combines brain stimulation with a robotic device controlling hand movement, which increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord. This work could have implications for restoring function in stroke patients with hand paralysis. The study was published in JNeurosci journal on January 15, 2018.

Alireza Gharabaghi and colleagues asked participants to imagine opening their hand without actually making any movement while their hand was placed in a device that passively opened and closed their fingers as it received the necessary input from their brain activity. The researchers demonstrate that stimulating the hand area of the motor cortex at the same time initiated hand movement with increased the strength of the neural signal, most likely by harnessing the processing power of additional neurons in the corticospinal tract. However, the signal decreased when participants were not required to imagine moving their hand.

According to Rehabilitation Robots Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, the purpose of rehabilitation is to repair some or all physical, sensory, and mental disabilities of patients caused by injury or illness. Robotic rehabilitation is prescribed for patients suffering from several types of injury, illness, or disease, including cancer, amputations, arthritis, cardiac disease, orthopedic injuries, neurological problems, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Delivering brain stimulation and robotic motor feedback simultaneously during rehabilitation may therefore be beneficial for patients who have lost voluntary muscle control.

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