Revolutionary Brain Implants Aid in Recovery from Traumatic Injuries for 5 Individuals

There’s Hope for People With Chronic Brain Injuries

More than five million Americans have suffered permanent disabilities due to traumatic brain injuries. They often struggle with simple tasks and have to abandon their jobs or education. However, a new study offers a ray of hope. Five people with severe brain injuries received implants with electrodes that were able to stimulate their brains and improve their cognitive abilities. The researchers believe that if the promising results are confirmed in larger clinical trials, these implants could become the first effective therapy for chronic brain injuries. Dr. Nicholas Schiff, the neurologist leading the study, claims that this is the very first evidence that proves it’s possible to make a difference for individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injuries.

Gina Arata, a volunteer who received the implant, described her life after a car crash left scarred. She lived with her parents and had to give up her dream career before receiving the implant. She noticed a profound change after receiving the implant, saying “I can be a normal human being and have a conversation.” The trial, based on years of brain structure research, revealed that the brain’s ability to focus on tasks depends on the network of brain regions linked by long limbs of neurons. The sudden stress on the brain, such as from a car crash, can break these connections.

The implant, inserted into the central lateral nucleus inside the brain, can significantly improve focus and attention for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Surgeons also commonly implant electrodes in patients with Parkinson’s disease and achieved successful results.

Volunteers who received the implant saw a significant jump in test scores up to 52 percent. Interviews and tests with their family members confirmed they were more like their former selves. This suggests that attention depends on a brain-wide network and is worth further investigation.

Dr. Alex Green, a neurosurgeon at the University of Oxford and Dr. Schiff and his colleagues are both on their way to examining potential implants in other regions of the brain. They both agree that society needs to recognize the silent epidemic of traumatic brain injuries, as the implant surgery may be expensive but worth the support.

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