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Intel wants to use AI to reconnect damaged spinal nerves

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    Intel wants to use AI to reconnect damaged spinal nerves

    AI's use in medicine could soon extend to one of the medical world's toughest challenges: helping the paralyzed regain movement. Intel and Brown University have started work on a DARPA-backed Intelligent Spine Interface project that would use AI to restore movement and bladder control for those with serious spinal cord injuries. The two-year effort will have scientists capture motor and sensory signals from the spinal cord, while surgeons will implant electrodes on both ends of an injury to create an "intelligent bypass." From there, neural networks running on Intel tools will (hopefully) learn how to communicate motor commands through the bypass and restore functions lost to severed nerves.The initial interface will use external computing hardware to interpret spine signals. In the long term, the collaborators would like a wholly implanted system to make the connection.

    This is something of a moonshot, and there's no guarantee the project will end with a surefire solution for paralysis. It should still be useful even then, though. Assistant engineering professor David Borton stressed that the research should still "uncover new knowledge" about spinal cords and "accelerate innovation" toward treatment. If it's not the remedy Intel and Brown seek, it should represent a big step in the right direction.
    Last edited by NW-Will; 4 Oct 2019, 7:41 PM.

    "This is something of a moonshot..."

    Ambitious project for sure...

    However, I don't recall any hedging for the moonshot.
    Know Thyself


      This seems similar to what is going on with Dr Reggie Edgerton and some of his former students who have gone on to perform work out of the University of Louisville and Lusanne Switzerland. Epidural stimulation is the most promising thing I've seen in a long time. The guy in Switzerland has even taken some independent steps w/o the stimulator turned on. From what I understand they don't know exactly what is going on, but they now know that the spinal cord can learn, just like the brain - which stands to reason since they are made of the same stuff. So, it appears as though the stimulation is helping the spinal cord figure out how to recover.

      The thing that bothers me is why aren't we as a community driving this more forcefully so that it quickly becomes a clinical application for all of us. Even quads with limited to no hand function are able to open bottles and pour themselves a drink. This kind of functional recovery is happening now. We should be driving this forward.


        I think it's called apathy. The vast majority of people with an SCI don't do anything when it comes to finding a cure.


          You're right, there's a lot of that going around. Somehow we need to rouse the troops to action. We can be quite a force if just awaken from our slumber. I'm reminded of what the HIV/AIDS activists were able to accomplish in such a short time. Though there's no cure, they now lead long and meaningful lives. Epidural stimulation may not be (or may be) the cure, but it certainly seems to be a way to get out of the chair and move, even now. And for those who can't pick up a fork and feed themselves, just think what a blessing for them to be able to do that right now - not wait for another "five years".

          I have some ideas about how to rouse the troops. I'm working on some things now.
          Last edited by GreaseLightning; 18 Oct 2019, 12:08 PM.