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Thread: Bionic ear research may help paraplegics

  1. #1
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    Bionic ear research may help paraplegics

    Researchers who invented the bionic ear are now working to use similar technology to treat epilepsy and help paraplegics and quadriplegics recover movement and feeling.

    Bionic ear pioneer Professor Graeme Clark said the first improvements from the extension of the technology could be available within five years.

    Prime Minister John Howard opened the Australian Centre for Medical Bionics and Hearing Science in Melbourne, where scientists will research how to apply the bionic ear technology to other ailments and disabilities.

    The federal government will contribute $5.7 million to the new centre, while Professor Clark has donated his $300,000 Prime Minister's Science Prize to the cause.

    Professor Clark - who Mr Howard dubbed a living national treasure - has devoted 38 years of his life to helping profoundly deaf people understand speech.

    The first bionic ear was implanted in a child 20 years ago when 14-year-old Peter Searle became the first recipient.

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    Rod Saunders became the first adult to receive an implant in 1978.

    Since then, more than 60,000 people around the world have gained the ability to understand spoken language with the help of the bionic ear, with Australia holding 70 per cent of the global market for cochlear implants.

    Although it does not restore normal hearing, the device works by electrically stimulating the hearing nerves in the inner ear, or cochlea, to allow people with hearing loss to understand speech and many other sounds.

    Research by The Bionic Ear Institute - which was renamed the Graeme Clark Institute - is looking at how to improve the implant so it can distinguish speech from other background noise, and to listen to music.

    Last year, researchers from the institute used natural nerve growth factors to prevent damaged nerve cells from degenerating, and inducing them to grow again.

    The next generation of bionic ear would use electrodes coated in "smart" plastic, called polypyrrole, that incorporate growth factors to encourage re-sprouting and repair of hearing nerve fibres and hair cells.

    Researchers at the centre for medical bionics are working to extend the discoveries to create new methods of nerve repair, new therapies for spinal cord injury, and devices that can recognise and control epileptic seizures that cannot be treated by drugs.

    "The bionic ear has actually opened up a whole area of bionics, and medical bionics and I never dreamed of that at the time," Prof Clark said.

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=47999

  2. #2
    Senior Member Schmeky's Avatar
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    Bob,

    Good article. I remember reading about Professor Clark initiating research into SCI about 2 years ago.

    [QUOTE] the first improvements from the extension of the technology could be available within [five years/QUOTE]

    Everything with SCI is ALWAYS 5 years away. Sux.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Ear research may help paraplegics

    Ear research may help paraplegics
    April 11, 2005 - 4:28PM

    Researchers who invented the bionic ear are now working to use similar technology to treat epilepsy and help paraplegics and quadriplegics recover movement and feeling.
    Bionic ear pioneer Professor Graeme Clark said the first improvements from the extension of the technology could be available within five years.

    Prime Minister John Howard today opened the Australian Centre for Medical Bionics and Hearing Science in Melbourne, where scientists will research how to apply the bionic ear technology to other ailments and disabilities.

    The federal government will contribute $5.7 million to the new centre, while Professor Clark has donated his $300,000 Prime Minister's Science Prize to the cause.

    Professor Clark - who Mr Howard today dubbed a living national treasure - has devoted 38 years of his life to helping profoundly deaf people understand speech.

    The first bionic ear was implanted in a child 20 years ago when 14-year-old Peter Searle became the first rec


    http://www.theage.com.au/news/Nation...?oneclick=true



    For spinal cord repair, the same smart plastic loaded with nerve growth factors would provide a scaffold between severed sections of the spine.

    As the growth factors are released, the nerves should regenerate through the scaffold.

    Scientists at the institute want to be able to get the nerves to connect with the right motor neurons on the other side of the injury.

    "We would hope to make some significant improvements," Prof Clark said.

    "We don't say that we will have them walking and feeling like normal people within five years, but every little improvement in walking and feeling makes a huge difference to these people."

  4. #4
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    New bionic ear uses smart plastic

    New bionic ear uses smart plastic
    Judy Skatssoon
    ABC Science Online
    Tuesday, 12 April 2005



    The bionic ear technology, which coaxes nerve cells to regrow, may also one day help to repair damaged spinal cords (Image: iStockphoto)
    Scientists are building a new bionic ear coated in a smart plastic that boosts the growth of nerve cells in the inner ear when it's zapped with electricity.

    The technology, which also has potential for healing spinal cord injuries, is being developed at the Australian Centre for Medical Bionics and Hearing Science, part of Melbourne's Bionic Ear Institute.

    Collaborator, Professor Gordon Wallace of the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, says the polymer polypyrrole is unusual because unlike most plastics, it can conduct electricity.

    It can also act as a host structure for the molecules that stimulate nerve regrowth, known as neurotrophins.

    Passing a small electric current through the plastic releases the molecules and helps to reverse the death and degeneration of hearing cells that occurs after prolonged deafness.

    "We can encompass these molecules in the polymer structure," Wallace says.
    http://abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1342345.htm

  5. #5
    Schmeky

    Always five years away is right

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