Innovative Electronic Implants Promise to Transform Spinal Cord Injury Therapies

Spine Injury

In a groundbreaking development from the University of Cambridge, engineers, neuroscientists, and surgeons have collaborated to create a flexible electronic device designed to wrap around the spinal cord, potentially providing a safer alternative to conventional treatments for spinal injuries. This innovative technology has successfully demonstrated the capability for 360-degree monitoring of the spinal cord’s activity without the high risks associated with previous methods involving piercing the organ with electrodes.

The Cambridge team’s device captures nerve signals communicated between the brain and the spinal cord, exploiting advancements in microelectronics to envelop the spinal cord in a very thin, high-resolution implant. This represents a first-of-its-kind attempt at safe, comprehensive monitoring, significantly enhancing the understanding and treatment of spinal injuries.

Fabricated through advanced photolithography and thin film deposition techniques, the Cambridge devices are biocompatible and extraordinarily slender, with a thickness of only a few millionths of a meter. They intercept signals from the axons within the spinal cord with minimal power consumption and without penetrating or damaging nerve tissues. During experimental trials on rats, the implants facilitated limb movement and displayed extremely low latency, closely mirroring human reflexes. Subsequent testing on human cadaver models has confirmed the viability of these devices for potential human application.

The Cambridge researchers are optimistic that their device can revolutionize the treatment landscape for spinal injuries. Current treatment methods usually involve implants in both the brain and the spinal cord, but the new approach may render brain implants unnecessary.

Source: HospiMedica

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