• US stock market daily report (September 24, 2015, Thursday)

    Documented in a preliminary study published in the British-based Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation as well as on a YouTube video, a brain-computer interface application assisted 28-year-old paraplegic Adam Fritz in taking a few steps, could show promise for others as well. Fritz, a former graduate student, injured his back in a motorcycle accident.

    The study began nearly five years after Fritz became paralyzed, and involved months of mental training in which he practiced thinking about walking to produce necessary leg-moving brain waves. Signals were picked up by an electroencephalogram (EEG) Fritz wore as a cap and were transmitted to a computer for processing by a special algorithm that could isolate the messages related only to leg motion, converting them to signals that would stimulate the patient's muscles to walk. He also underwent extensive physical rehabilitation to strengthen his muscles.

    A virtual-reality-like video game was first used for practice by scientists and Fritz, training him to control a walking avatar. During the next phase of the study, while suspended slightly above the floor in the lab, Fritz practiced walking and took his first real steps on the ground on his 20th walk.

    Dr. An Do, a study co-author, said clinical applications are many years away as the results of the research needs to be replicated in other patients and greatly refined.

    Doctors in Southern California reported on Wednesday, a brain-to-computer technology can translate thoughts into leg movements, enabling Fritz who is paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury, to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics.

    Using a computerized system that allowed the brain to bypass the injured spinal cord, messages were sent through a computer algorithm to electrodes placed around the patient's knees to trigger controlled leg muscle movements.

    Researchers at the University of California Irvine's iMove Lab said, Fritz propelled himself over a distance of 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) across the floor as his weight was partially supported by an overhead suspension harness and a walker. Because Fritz lacked any sensation in his legs or feet, the weight support was necessary per Dr. Do.

    By miniaturizing the EEG component enough to be implanted inside a patient's skull or brain, researchers hope to refine the technology to allow clearer reception of the neural messages and perhaps the delivery of pressure sensation from sensors in the foot, back to the brain.

    Biomedical engineer Zoran Nenadic who led the research said, the study proved it possible "to restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury."

    The outcome marks a promising, incremental achievement in the development of brain-computer interfaces that may one day help stroke and spinal injury victims regain some mobility, per researchers at the University of California, Irvine.

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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