One of the primary driving goals of The Miami Project is to restore a person’s ability to function as they once did after suffering from a spinal cord injury (SCI). During 2018, researchers continued a clinical trial that saw the insertion of an investigational system on the brain of a participant who had suffered from SCI. People with SCI often lose their ability to use or move parts of their body because the connectivity between the brain and body parts is severed when the spine was injured. The research team worked to decode information that the brain was attempting to send, particularly when trying to communicate with a participant’s dominant hand.
This has been done, but to continue to use the devices, the person has to be hooked up to a primary device. The Miami Project has sought to develop a way that allows a person to have an implant that does not require wires leading to another, outside machine, giving the person more autonomy and mobility. Following mapping of a brain, the team trained the computer to understand what the different movements were meant to be and algorithms were developed. These are then used to allow someone with a spinal injury to translate what they want to do. The participant was able to grip implements, including writing implements. Some of the most impressive progress has been in allowing the participant to walk as long as he had a robotic ambulator.
The study is still in its early phases though, so to see what else is planned and how the team intends to move forward go to Transforming Thought to Government Offers New Hope for Spinal Cord Injury Patients.