bci-ecog-placement-diagramMedical science has come a long way. Back in the day when someone found to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), there was nothing much that could be done about it, save for trying to delay the symptoms and to make the person as comfortable as possible. However that has changed.

While restoring full body function to patients suffering from ALS has yet to be discovered, a published research paper in the New England Journal of Medicine has revealed that researchers have come up with a way that will at least allow the patient to communicate so as to feel less “locked-in”. This is thanks to a brain implant that sees doctors insert an electrocorticograph (ECoG) into the brain where the implant will be able to pick up on impulses associated with moving.

This was successfully installed in a brain of a 58-year old woman who was left paralyzed due to ALS, where she was only capable of moving her eyes. With the implant, the impulses picked up by the device and sends it to a computer in front of her in which she uses it to communicate. At the moment it is still very slow as it takes about 20 seconds to click a letter on the screen using her brain.

However there are other features installed that aims to help make her more independent, such as adjusting the thermostat, turning the TV on/off, and so on. Speaking to the New Scientist in an interview, the woman was quoted as saying, “I would like to change the television channel and my dream is to be able to drive my wheelchair.”

Filed in Medical. Read more about Science.

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