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Brain-Computer-Spinal Interface Restores Upper Limb Function after Spinal Cord Injury

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Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are an emerging strategy for spinal cord injury (SCI) intervention that may be used to reanimate paralyzed limbs. This approach requires decoding movement intention from the brain to control movement-evoking stimulation. Common decoding methods use spike-sorting and require frequent calibration and high computational complexity. Furthermore, most applications of closed-loop stimulation act on peripheral nerves or muscles, resulting in rapid muscle fatigue. Here we show that a local field potential-based BCI can control spinal stimulation and improve forelimb function in rats with cervical SCI. We decoded forelimb movement via multi-channel local field potentials in the sensorimotor cortex using a canonical correlation analysis algorithm. We then used this decoded signal to trigger epidural spinal stimulation and restore forelimb movement. Finally, we implemented this closed-loop algorithm in a miniaturized onboard computing platform. This Brain-Computer-Spinal Interface (BCSI) utilized recording and stimulation approaches already used in separate human applications. Our goal was to demonstrate a potential neuroprosthetic intervention to improve function after upper extremity paralysis.

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