PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Supported with a new grant of $6.3 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a team led by Brown University researchers will develop and test an "intelligent spinal interface" aimed at helping to restore limb movement and bladder control for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.
Developed in collaboration with physicians at Rhode Island Hospital, a Lifespan partner, along with commercial partners at Intel and Micro-Leads Medical, the experimental spinal interface will be designed to bridge the gap in neural circuitry created by a spinal injury, the researchers say.
"We know that circuits around a spinal lesion often remain active and functional," said David Borton, an assistant professor at Brown's School of Engineering and a researcher at the University's Carney Institute for Brain Science who will lead the project.
Over the next two years, the research team will work with Dr. Jared Fridley and the neurosurgery staff at Rhode Island Hospital to recruit volunteers with spinal cord injuries to be implanted with an experimental interface for a period of up to 29 days.
"This is truly a transformational effort that has the potential to have a significant impact in the lives of patients with spinal cord injury, particularly for our veterans with war-related spinal cord damage," said Dr. Ziya Gokaslan, neurosurgeon-in-chief at Rhode Island and Miriam hospitals, clinical director of Lifespan's Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute and chair of neurosurgery Brown's Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown.
We are grateful for the funding of this work by the Department of Defense through DARPA and for all the support we have received from Lifespan and Brown University leadership."