Doctors Use Microchip Technology to Recover Nerves

Dennis Faas's picture

It all started with a car crash victim. The nerve sensations in the right part of his body were completely incapacitated, rendering the patient's entire right side useless. After a number of years passed by, with no signs of recovery, the patient willingly succumbed to amputation and finally gave up on his hopes of ever regaining the mobility that was lost so many years ago.

Fortunately, the entire episode was monitored by Dr. Doug Zochodne, a Calgary-based doctor who felt enough empathy for the young man's situation that he lobbied the Government of Canada for financial assistance in discovering new ways to regain lost nerve sensations for future patients.

While doctors have always tried to assist patients suffering from nerve loss, the regeneration process in previous years has often been partial at best, with "neuropathic pain" being a major side-effect for patients. The more severe the traumatic experience, the more painful the side-effect. (Source:

In the years that followed, Dr. Zochodne assembled a team of brain surgeons, bioengineers, neurologists and rehabilitation specialists along with a number of top graduate-level students to work towards finding a cure for nerve loss.

The team has now found hope in the form of cutting-edge microchip technology that will allow doctors to regenerate nerve sensations. The team also has more reason to celebrate in the form of a $2.25-million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (Source:

However, the progression of the project is literally moving at a snail's pace.

The team has looked to snails to test these microchips, since the shelled creatures have large brain cells that emit electric currents, making them easier to interface with microchips. (Source:

In a similar manner, the team plans to emit electric currents in human patients through the microchips implanted on regeneration tubes. This will direct damaged cells in the right direction, creating an opportunity for future growth.

Initially, the best the team can hope for is significantly limited recovery (ie. wiggling fingers), however many patients are hoping that the new technology will be a sign of things to come.

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