The brain is the most complex organ. All other body systems work through the command of the brain. This is why when our nervous systems deteriorates and gets ill, our body experiences paralysis and our physical capacity becomes limited.
However, a new brain implant in Netherlands has been getting viral across the internet, as it is the first ever implant in the world to allow those who cannot speak to communicate with their thoughts. Nick Ramsay, neuroscientist and the lead researcher from the University Medical School Utrecht shared: 'This is a world first. It's a fully implantable system that works at home without need for any experts to make it work.'
In principle, this implant is a mind-reading device. It does not rely on physical movements. Moreover, it can be completely operated at home even without the supervision of a medical expert.
'Somehow, they never really break through into clinical application. Nobody made the step to make it work at home.' Ramsay said.
The surgery is quite crucial. It is implanted in the brain and its two electrodes have to placed in exact locations and the brain. One is connected to the part of the brain which controls the movement of the right hand while the other is placed into the part of the brain responsible for allowing people to count bacwards. It is then connected to a pacemaker-sized transmitter implanted into the patient's chest and this transmitter is connected wirelessly to a computer program which is displayed in front of the patient.
The user then wills to do something, which the transmitter picks up and displays on the screen.
It was tested on Hanneke de Bruijne who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the year 2008 and had been paralyzed years after. After 6 months of training to use the device, she can now use it with 95% accuracy.
"Using the device to communicate is still a slow process - it can take a few minutes to spell a single word - but [de Bruijne] is getting faster with training," Ramsay shares.
"At first, it took her 50 seconds to select a letter - she can now do it in 20 seconds."
Meanwhile, he aims to increase the number of electrodes used in the system for Bruijne to 30-60 more so her speech would be far quicker than the current one.
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