Microelectrode Brain-Machine Interface

Individuals with tetraplegia often have intact brain function but are unable to move due to injury or disease affecting the spinal cord, nerves or muscles. Advanced technology including functional electrical stimulators, robotic assistants and dexterous prosthetic limbs are being developed with the goal of restoring functions that are impaired due to paralysis of the upper limbs. However, these complex systems require high-dimensional control that cannot be achieved through currently available assistive devices due to limitations in functionality, ease of use and speed of use. 

Brain-machine interface (BMI) technology is based on the finding that with intact brain function, neural signals are generated even though they are not sent to the arms, hands and legs. These signals can be interpreted by a computer to provide an alternate “neural pathway” while the system continuously detects and digitizes the activity of neuron populations in the primary motor area of the cerebral cortex. External components process and decode these signals into a prediction of desired movement. This predicted movement serves as a control signal that the individual can then use to control a variety of external devices or computer displays. 

The goal of this study is to demonstrate reliable control of high degree of freedom assistive devices using two NeuroPort Arrays chronically implanted in the motor cortex of individuals with impaired upper limbs. This study is conducted under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) approved by the FDA. During this study, participants will learn to control computer cursors, virtual environments, and sophisticated robotics technology. This trial is registered on clinicaltrials.gov.