The feeling of grass beneath your fingertips, warm sand under your feet, the pain of getting too close to a fire: the world is full of sensations that we often take for granted. But for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries (SCI,) and there are approximately 288,000 of them in the United States alone, losing their sense of touch can greatly impact how they interact with the world around them. New research in the field of brain-computer interfaces could make this devastating loss of sensation reversible.
By implanting a computer chip into an SCI patient’s brain and relaying neural signals to a computer, a team of researchers from the Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) in Columbus, Ohio, has found a way to amplify small, imperceptible touch sensations in a patient. This computer chip will not only restore motion to paralyzed limbs, but it will restore a sense of touch as