A neural implant or brain implants are technological devices that are connected to a person’s brain. They are placed on an individual’s brain or connected to the brain’s cortex. This device then interacts with the brain’s neurons. They can be inserted through an injection or surgery. Neurons are cells responsible for relaying information in a person’s body using electrical signals.
Neural implants have many uses. These include treatment of various diseases, rehabilitation of the body after injuries, enhanced memory as well as aiding communication with prosthetic limbs, among many other uses.
The devices make it possible to record neural activity, which allows researchers to note the patterns that fit neural circuits use to liaise. Brain implants also transmit electricity pulses to neurons which overrides instinctual firing patterns. This forces the neurons to communicate differently.
The most established and recognized clinical use of neural implants is in Deep Brain Stimulation treatment (“DBS”). This therapy involves electrodes that have been surgically put inside an individual’s brain where they stimulate particular structures electrically. This is done in an effort to decrease symptoms of some brain-based illnesses.
DBS was first approved in 1997 by the FDA for essential tremors. Today, it has been approved by other various global regulators for many disorders and diseases such as dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, tinnitus, obsessive compulsive disorder, epilepsy and neuropathic pain. Additionally, there is some research being conducted to see if it can be used as a treatment for psychiatric disorders such as depression as well as the Tourette syndrome.
Globally, about 150,000 people are said to have gotten a DBS implant.
Furthermore, researchers are trying to find a way to manipulate the vagus nerve by use of brain implants. The vagus nerve connects some of the important organs in the body to the brain stem. Researchers are looking into this to find a link in order to treat stroke, heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, migraines among many other ailments.
In addition to this, brain implants help in epidural stimulation, which is essentially, the stimulating of the spinal cord. This treatment has allowed some individuals whose lower bodies are paralyzed to stand, move and sometimes, walk for short distances for the first time since they experienced spinal cord trauma.
These neuromodulation devices have also enabled amputees to control robotic legs, arms and hands through ‘mind-controlled’ prostheses (using their thoughts). This is done using a brain implant in the limb above the amputation or in the brain. Some of the robotic limbs issue sensory feedback by stimulating the nerves that are located just above the amputation, thus providing the user a feel of what (s)he is touching.
Researchers have also managed to improve individual’s memory capability for certain tasks through the stimulation of their brain structures in specific ways. For instance, quadriplegic individuals who have brain implants have been successfully able to operate computers and type sentences by using their thoughts. There’s also an algorithm that perceives an individual’s mood based on their brain activity alone.
We are entering an exciting world in which it is possible to combine the individualized treatments availed by firms like Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) with neural implants.
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