Scientists on the Way to Rerouting Past Paralysis

This is utterly amazing stuff:

Though it will be years before spinal bypass surgery reaches even the clinical-experiment stage, researchers at the University of Washington (UW) and the Washington National Primate Research Center, both in Seattle, have figured out a way to get macaque monkeys in their lab to manipulate temporarily paralyzed muscles in their arms using brain-controlled electrical stimulation. In research reported last week in Nature, they describe what happened when they attached electrodes to neurons in a monkey’s motor cortex—the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement—and used fairly simple algorithms to translate activity in these cortical cells into electrical signals that tell muscles when, how much, and how forcefully to contract.

If you can think of no other reason to fight against a national healthcare system, then this should be enough. The world depends on the (still semi-free) American system to fund and create research like this and, more important, to bring the fruits of it to market as real products.

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