Spinal Cord Computer Interface

Project: Research project

Project Details


[unreadable] DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Following spinal cord damage from trauma or disease, skeletal muscles distal to the point of damage become paralyzed due to disrupted neural conduction. In high-level spinal cord injury (quadriplegia), there is a great need for a method that can substitute the voluntary control for self-mobility, computer access, or environmental control. [unreadable] Current Solution: The 'brain-computer interfaces' have been developed to extract this volitional control information from the motor cortex. The cortical signals are recorded with microelectrode/microwire arrays implanted and interpreted with advanced signal processing algorithms? Short Comings: [unreadable] However, there remain two main problems to be solved that are inherent to the cortical approach. First, with the cortical implantation of the electrodes the population of neurons recorded from changes day to day, thus requiring a training session for the signal processor every day. Second, the number of good electrodes that actually record activity in each array (yield) is very low and all the signals are lost after sometime. Our Proposal: The alternative method proposed here is to extract the volitional motor signals from the proximal spinal cord that is still intact above the site of injury. The distal portions of the severed axons go through Wallerian degeneration. However, the proximal part of the axon continues to function years after the injury since its connection to the cell body in the cortex is still intact. A Spinal Cord- [unreadable] Computer Interface (SCCI) can have information flow rates that are much higher than that of brain-computer interfaces since a majority of the recording electrodes will be functional (see background and significance). The stability of the recordings will also be improved due to the neuroanatomy of the spinal cord. These improvements are crucially needed before such neural interfaces can move into the clinical phase to help individuals with high level spinal cord injury. Significance: Each year about 15,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the US. Majority of these cases survive and need help for their basic needs. The average life expectance of this population is 40 years. Any tool or instrument that can provide them with self-mobility, environmental control, and computer access is priceless. [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable]
Effective start/end date4/15/073/31/09


  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $214,094.00
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $181,600.00


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