Researchers To Use Sugar To Help Paralyzed Patients Move Again
Jun 19, 2012 12:18
We're not talking about giving them a sugar high. Engineers at MIT have
developed a method using the sweet stuff which may one day allow
paralyzed patients to move again.
The idea involves glucose-powered fuel cell, a concept which has been around for quite sometime. The difference is that unlike previous models, which were less efficient and degraded over time, this one involves using silicon wafer containing glucose fuel cells.
The way this fuel cell works is that it uses a platinum catalyst to remove
electrons from the glucose from
the brain’s cerebrospinal fluid, with minimal impact on brain function. This process allows the device to generate
hundreds of microwatts of power, which is just enough to power a neural implant which can help people with spinal cord injuries move their arms and legs.
While the neural implant tech is still in the works, these glucose-powered fuel cells means researchers are one step closer to curing paralysis. Benjamin Rapoport, the first author on the new MIT study, explains:
“It will be a few more years into the future before you see people with spinal-cord injuries receive such implantable systems in the context of standard medical care, but those are the sorts of devices you could envision powering from a glucose-based fuel cell,”
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