News24

'Paralysed' monkeys use limbs

2012-04-19 10:45

Paris - Scientists using brain electrode implants managed to get lab monkeys to use their paralysed hands to pick up a ball, an encouraging result for people with spinal injuries, they said on Wednesday.

Monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains and arms were able to grasp and move the ball despite having had their hand anaesthetised.

The implants allowed the brain to communicate directly with muscle, thus bypassing the spinal cord.

"This connection from brain to muscles might someday be used to help patients paralysed due to spinal cord injury perform activities of daily living and achieve greater independence," said researcher Lee Miller from Chicago's Northwestern University.

The monkeys in the test were trained to pick up a ball and deposit it into a tube in exchange for a reward, and had electrodes implanted into their brains and arms.

Differences

They then had their hand anaesthetised and the other arm restrained.

After confirming the animals were unable to move or feel their hand, the scientists would "turn on" the neuroprosthesis allowing the brain to send messages directly to the hand muscles.

"The monkey won't use his hand perfectly, but there is a process of motor learning that we think is very similar to the process you go through when you learn to use a new computer mouse or a different tennis racquet. Things are different and you learn to adjust to them," said Miller.

He conceded there were many differences between the monkeys and paralysed subjects whose muscles became weak over time with disuse.

Similar electrical stimulation devices are already used in people with spinal injuries, but require the person to be able to move another large muscle, like the shoulder, to stimulate the electric currents.

"The existing system does provide them with some degree of increased independence but it is rather limited," said Miller.

Similar research has allowed paralysed patients to move a mouse cursor or a robotic hand with their minds.

He said scientists were "rather close" to being able to use the new technology in human subjects, but a number of "technical issues" had to be worked out first.

This included that the type of electrode used had a short life span and had to be replaced after two or three years.

Human trials should follow in about five years, said Miller.

Comments
  • Gina - 2012-04-19 10:59

    STOP USING ANIMALS IN THESE EXPERIMENTS!!! WHEN WILL IT STOP?????? Find another way but please stop abusing other species in this manner. No wonder this world is in a state; we're so busy abusing and exploiting other species indiscriminately yet we can't sort out simple social ills like teaching children right from wrong i.e. respect for one another etc etc.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-19 11:10

      agreed Gina, if aliens do exist...im sure they are watching our every move, and will come down to make us their b****es in punishment...and the animals will roam free, the way its meant to be

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-19 11:10

      agreed Gina, if aliens do exist...im sure they are watching our every move, and will come down to make us their b****es in punishment...and the animals will roam free, the way its meant to be

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-19 11:15

      Stop eating meat, then complain about animal cruelty. Because killing thousands of livestock everyday is okay.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-19 11:15

      Stop eating meat, then complain about animal cruelty. Because killing thousands of livestock everyday is okay.

      Shaun.groenewald - 2012-04-19 11:20

      no words. so bad

      Shaun.groenewald - 2012-04-19 11:20

      no words. so bad

      Gina - 2012-04-19 11:59

      @Tony, actually you are so right about 'factory-farmed meat' hence I don't eat meat. And I am against ALL cruelty to animals - they deserve better and we are capable of better.

      Gina - 2012-04-19 11:59

      @Tony, actually you are so right about 'factory-farmed meat' hence I don't eat meat. And I am against ALL cruelty to animals - they deserve better and we are capable of better.

      koo.doyle - 2012-04-19 12:11

      I'm with Gina. I don't eat meat either. Exploitation of animals is just wrong. Period.

      koo.doyle - 2012-04-19 12:11

      I'm with Gina. I don't eat meat either. Exploitation of animals is just wrong. Period.

      joanne.fairbrother - 2012-04-19 12:18

      @Tony Lapson, I agree with you that we have moral inconsistencies. But two wrongs don't make a right. Both animal testing and factory farms are cases of extreme animal abuses and should not be supported. "Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." -Professor Charles R. Magel

      joanne.fairbrother - 2012-04-19 12:18

      @Tony Lapson, I agree with you that we have moral inconsistencies. But two wrongs don't make a right. Both animal testing and factory farms are cases of extreme animal abuses and should not be supported. "Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." -Professor Charles R. Magel

      Byron - 2012-04-19 12:39

      so i take it u dont use any modern medicine then, or surgeries etc.... its a neccessary evil for us to progress our medicine to the point when we wont have to anymore....

      Byron - 2012-04-19 12:39

      so i take it u dont use any modern medicine then, or surgeries etc.... its a neccessary evil for us to progress our medicine to the point when we wont have to anymore....

  • Sue - 2012-04-19 11:32

    Disgusting torture of these poor animals

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-04-19 12:16

    I love nice juicy raw steak

      koo.doyle - 2012-04-19 13:27

      Ya because you have no compassion, and don't care about animal suffering. Good luck clawing your way up the evolutionary ladder.

      koo.doyle - 2012-04-19 13:27

      Ya because you have no compassion, and don't care about animal suffering. Good luck clawing your way up the evolutionary ladder.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-19 14:31

      Nom nom nom

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-19 14:31

      Nom nom nom

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