CWRU Study of BrainGate Could Help Paralyzed Patients Regain Movement
A group of engineers at Case Western Reserve University, whose goal is to help people with paralysis regain the use of their limbs, is launching a clinical trial to study a system that will measure how these people’s brains communicate movement.
The system, called BrainGate2 uses a small array of electrodes implanted in the brain to translate nerve firings into computer commands that, for now, can control virtual arm and hand movements on a screen. Eventually, the research team, which includes surgeons and doctors at University Hospitals Case Medical Center as well as Brown University in Rhode Island and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, hopes to use the computer commands to program the electronic stimulation of the patient’s own hands and arms.
“These are very ill patients with high-level spinal-cord injuries in the neck,” saidRobert Kirsch, professor of biomedical engineering at CWRU and executive director of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center. The FES Center, a consortium of CWRU, MetroHealth Medical Center and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, uses various forms of electrical stimulation to trigger muscles involved in bowel and bladder control, coughing, hand grasping and sitting upright.