Elon Musk’s Neuralink to help paralysis victims with brain-machine interfaces
Elon Musk is known for his passion for a better future – he wants humans to colonize Mars and hopes to better the lives of everyone he can.
The entrepreneur may have made a name as the man behind Tesla, but he has more ambition than driverless cars.
He is also behind the company hoping to use Neuralink technology to improve the lives of disabled people.
Could brain-machine interfaces change the future?
Elon Musk and his company, Neuralink, is using the technology behind brain-machine interfaces, BMIs, to work on something that could change lives.
Neuralink technology is aimed at helping victims of paralysis accidents and improving their quality of life.
This is news that has been welcomed by many, though feared by others. Even experts are sharing their opinion on the technology.
“The development of BMIs is an exciting prospect given the devastating impact spinal cord injuries tend to have on the lives of SCI patients, particularly those who have been involved in catastrophic accidents. I look forward to seeing advancements in clinical trials,” says leading California paralysis accidents law firm & legal expert Rick Nehora (source), on Musk’s medical technology.
What is Neuralink technology?
The aim of BMIs is to read a person’s thoughts with a machine and then turn those thoughts into action. If successful, a person will be able to control devices such as robotic arms or legs.
Generally, BMI systems will consist of a computer and a device such as a limb to be controlled by the owner’s thoughts.
This kind of technology is what Neuralink is using and trying to improve upon. Although it sounds like something out of a movie, it’s not impossible.
It is believed that this technology could become as normal as cosmetic surgery and it would change the lives of millions.
Elon Musk and his team want to help patients who suffered serious injuries and are now paralysed.
The technology, which may link to apple iphones and other personal devices in the future, could give disabled people control of their bodies once again.
In addition to this, Neuralink is hoping to develop the BMI technology for various other application s as well.
Despite still being a young company, it has a lot of drive and passion to change lives using technology always believed to be fictional.
Currently, their focus is on designing a neural implant that will give the wearer wireless control over devices.
The implant will allow the wearer to control some very basic devices such as smartphones and computers.
Of course, Musk hopes to expand this control to other devices as well, as soon as it has proven successful in humans.
When it is deemed safe and effective, a person will be able to get up to 10 chips in their brains.
The technology has not been tested on humans yet, but the company hopes to introduce the world to it at the end of 2020.
How does the Neuralink implant work?
The recipient of a Neuralink implant will have a chip with micron-scale threads inserted directly into their brain.
These threads contain electrodes which are connected to the Link. They will be insulated to give the electrodes proper protection and keep things going smoothly.
The plan is to place the chip in the brain areas that are used to control the body’s movements.
The technology will be powered by a battery that can be charged wirelessly, through an inductive charger.
Since the technology is closely involved with the brain, there are naturally many risks to consider.
Neuralink has not done clinical trials so it is not yet known if the technology could be harmful to humans.
However, the company insists that safety has been at the core of their entire design process.
They stated that the Link also offers innovations that will make surgical procedures safer than what is currently used for neurosurgery.
Still, Neuralink realizes that placing a device in the brain is risky and could lead to bleeding. That is why they are using the micron-scale threads, which will be inserted using a very small needle.
The needle is roughly the size of many of the brain’s neurons – very, very small.
On top of this, each thread will be inserted individually to make the process a little easier. The company is working on the Neurosurgical Robot to insert the threads to avoid accidents that could happen at the hand of a human.
While machines can fail too, it is believed that the risk is lowered when human error is removed from the equation.
Ultimately, Neuralink wants to help paralysis victims to have independence once more and hope to give it to them as soon as possible.
Naturally, since this is such a remarkable area of science, as well as medicine, a lot more research will be done.
Safety concerns, the actual effectiveness, long-term effects and other possible applications of this device must be investigated thoroughly.
As long as the highest standards are upheld, Neuralink and Musk could change the world in a big way.
Giving someone who is paralyzed the use of their bodies back is a feat that was once only thought possible in films.
One day, it could become a procedure that is used worldwide.
Story by Desere Davis