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Prosthetic device could help brain injury victims

Every year, millions of American sustain head and brain injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health, with more than half of all traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused in motor vehicle accidents.

About 100,000 people will suffer injuries so severe that they will have to deal with long-term disability. But a new implant being developed by scientists might one day help those who have suffered TBI or suffer from brain diseases.

A team of researchers from universities around the country have created what is known as the cybernetic implant. It's an electronic prosthesis that connects two parts of the neural cortex.

Right now, testing of the implant has been done on rhesus monkeys and so far, results have been impressive, researchers say.

The devices manipulate the brain activity of the monkeys, enhancing their decision-making abilities after their mental abilities were impaired due to the administration of cocaine (a drug used because of its known negative impact on cognitive abilities).

The monkeys were initially taught to recognize certain images flashed on computer screens. Later, after the cocaine was administered, the monkeys' ability to recognize the images dropped by 13 percent, researchers said.

However, when the implant was then used, the memories of the monkeys not only overcame the negative effects of the drug, but even surpassed their original measured cognitive abilities.

The results offer hope to brain injury victims and their families alike that the devices will one day soon be available for use in humans.

Our Wisconsin law firm assists people who have suffered brain injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Visit our La Crosse car accidents page for more information.

Source: Red Orbit, "Brain Implant Could Increase Cognitive Function Of Dementia, Stroke Patients," Sept. 17, 2012

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