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Visuomotor Prosthetic for Paralysis

Brain-Machine Interfaces

Physicians and researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, and the California Institute of Technology are conducting a research study to develop a brain-machine interface, or BMI, for persons with spinal cord injuries. A BMI interprets brain activity in order to control an external device such as a computer cursor or robotic limb. Participants in this study will receive a BMI and practice using it for about a year.

The BMI device in this study involves placing very small sensors, about the size of a pencil eraser, into areas of the brain that are known to plan arm movements. These plans would normally be sent to other regions of the brain to perform the actual movements. By tying into this planning activity, and sending the signals to a computer instead, the BMI system can translate these plans into actual movement of a computer cursor.

Neuroport Array
Small electrode arrays placed on the brain surface

What will happen in this Study?

This study has received an Investigative Device Exemption (IDE) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implant the BMI device for approximately one year. If you participate in this study, you will undergo two surgeries: one to place the device at the beginning of the study, and one to remove the device at the end of the study.

To place the device, two small arrays of sensors, each about the size of a pencil eraser, will be placed through an opening in your skull. The wires from the arrays will be attached to two connectors that are fixed to the skull. These connectors will be used to send signals from the sensors to our computer system. After the surgery, you will spend up to two weeks in post-operative monitoring and healing.

After you have recovered from the placement surgery, you will train with study personnel to learn how to use the BMI. Training sessions may occur up to five days per week, and we will work with you to determine the best schedule. During these training sessions, you will learn how to use your brain activity to control a computer. Learning to use the BMI will require consistent practice and effort. You will start with simple tasks and gradually move to more complicated activities. Our goal is to allow you to control a tablet computer.

After about 1 year, the arrays and connectors will be removed. As with the first surgery, you will spend up to two weeks in post-operative monitoring and healing. Additionally, you will be asked to come back to the hospital for follow-up care during your recovery.