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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Man paralyzed in 2011 crash walks again due to brain implants

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Electronic brain implants have helped a paralyzed man to walk again after a long time. This has indeed transformed Gert-Jan Oskam’s life.

 40-year-old, Gert-Jan Oskam, from the Netherlands, was reportedly involved in a bike accident twelve years ago. He was paralyzed after the  the incident occurred in 2011.

In a groundbreaking development, a second spinal implant has been designed to transmit signals wirelessly from the brain to the legs and feet, enabling individuals to control their lower limbs with their thoughts.

The technology has been deemed “very encouraging” by a renowned UK spinal charity, despite its experimental status. Mr. Oskam likened his experience to that of a toddler who is learning to walk again. The individual has achieved the ability to stand and climb stairs.

Following an extensive journey, one can rise to their feet and relish a refreshing beer in the company of their companion. Few people realize the delight that it brings. Through the use of head sensors, Gert-Jan’s implant is able to transmit brain impulses to a computer.

The Nature study was led by researchers from Switzerland. Lausanne University neurosurgeon, Prof. Jocelyne Bloch, recently performed a delicate implant procedure. However, she emphasized that the technology is still in its early stages of research and it will take several years before it can be made available to paralyzed individuals.

In an interview with BBC News, she expressed that the team’s aim was to expedite the transition of the product from the laboratory to the clinical setting.

According to the speaker, it is crucial to not only conduct a scientific trial but also to provide greater accessibility to individuals with spinal cord injuries. These individuals are often informed by medical professionals that they must come to terms with the reality that they will never regain mobility.

Gert-Jan’s leg movements are being converted into muscle commands by a computer software. The study did not involve the participation of Harvey Sihota, CEO of Spinal Research. The individual referred to the discovery as “extremely promising,” acknowledging that there is still a long way to go before the technology becomes widely accessible.

In the realm of neurotechnology, a recent development marks a promising advancement towards enhancing the lives of those with spinal cord injuries. Although there is still room for improvement, this step forward is generating excitement and hope for the future of the field.

In July of 2021, Gert-Jan’s mobility was restored. In a daring move, Professor Bloch has undergone a surgical procedure that involved the creation of two 5-cm holes in his skull, specifically above the areas of the brain that control movement. The procedure involved the implantation of two disc-shaped devices that can wirelessly transmit brain signals. These signals are intended to be received by two sensors located on the patient’s helmet.

Swiss researchers have developed an algorithm that can translate impulses into leg and foot muscle movements. The algorithm is used in conjunction with a second implant that is placed around the spinal cord of the patient, Gert-Jan. Professor Bloch, who conducted the procedure, carefully connected the implant to the patient’s walking nerve endings.

Following several weeks of training, he has achieved the ability to walk with the assistance of a walker. EPFL research leader Prof. Grégoire Courtine has described his movement as both sluggish and fluid.

He commented that witnessing him walk in a natural manner was an emotionally stirring experience. This represents a significant shift in what was previously available.

The groundbreaking spinal implant study conducted by Professor Courtine paved the way for the development of brain implants. A new spinal implant has been developed that can enhance weak brain impulses to the injured spinal column through computer-programmed signals.

David M’Zee made headlines in 2018 when media outlets reported that he had become the first patient to successfully receive a spinal implant and subsequently conceive a child with his wife.

Thanks to the same technology, Michel Roccati was able to walk again last year.

Both individuals have experienced significant benefits, despite their somewhat robotic gait. In the event that their rhythm is disrupted, they are required to come to a stop and start over. Prior to receiving brain implants, Gert-Jan’s medical treatment solely consisted of spinal implants. According to him, he has gained greater control.

In a statement made by the user, they claimed to have gained control over the system that previously held power over them. “Before, the system controlled me, but now I control it,” the user declared. Both systems are not capable of being used continuously. The objects in question are both weighty and innovative.

Patients use them for an hour several times a week to aid in their recovery. According to recent findings, walking has been shown to enhance muscle strength and partially restore mobility in individuals with impaired nervous systems, indicating potential regrowth of damaged nerves.

The miniaturization of technology is a pressing issue, according to experts. Professor Courtine’s spin-off company, Onward Medical, is enhancing its technology for widespread commercial use.

According to Professor Courtine, “it’s coming.” Ten years after his injury, Gert-Jan received the implant. Picture the possibility of utilizing a brain-spine interface several weeks following an injury. “Recovery looms large,” says the source.

Taushif Patel
Taushif Patelhttps://taushifpatel.com
Taushif Patel is a Author and Entrepreneur with 20 years of media industry experience. He is the co-founder of Target Media and publisher of INSPIRING LEADERS Magazine, Director of Times Applaud Pvt. Ltd.

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