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Surprising Science

Medical Devices that Plug into Your Nervous System

New medical devices which can plug directly into a patient’s nervous system communicate to wireless health-monitoring hardware. New prostheses can also interact wirelessly with your brain.

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers have tested medical devices in animals which connect directly to the nervous system, transmitting data to external wireless health monitors without invasive procedures. Other advancements include bionic devices which, by plugging into the body’s nerves, can receive orders from the brain and muscular system: “Once the device is inserted into the nerve, nerve fibres grow through it. Nerve signals associated with particular movements are then selected, and these signals transmitted wirelessly to a receiver in the prosthetic.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Developments in the world of prosthetics, which could allow wireless exchanges of sensory data between the brain and the outside world, could have far-reaching consequences. Swiss scientists currently working to coat prosthetic limbs with artificial skin, containing electronic sensors, would give amputees a sense of touch similar to what every human experiences. The research opens the door to a world where many more devices could be controlled simply by a person having a thought, from a washing machine, to a wheelchair, to an airplane.

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