‘Brain wi-fi’ reverses leg paralysis in primate first

An implant that beams instructions out of the brain has been used to restore movement in paralysed primates for the first time, say scientists.

Rhesus monkeys were paralysed in one leg due to a damaged spinal cord.

The team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology bypassed the injury by sending the instructions straight from the brain to the nerves controlling leg movement.

Experts said the technology could be ready for human trials within a decade.

Spinal-cord injuries block the flow of electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body resulting in paralysis.

It is a wound that rarely heals, but one potential solution is to use technology to bypass the injury.

In the study, a chip was implanted into the part of the monkeys’ brain that controls movement.

Its job was to read the spikes of electrical activity that are the instructions for moving the legs and send them to a nearby computer.

It deciphered the messages and sent instructions to an implant in the monkey’s spine to electrically stimulate the appropriate nerves.

The process all takes place in real time.

The results, published in the journal Nature, showed the monkeys regained some control of their paralysed leg within six days and could walk in a straight line on a treadmill.

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