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  1. #1
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    Has anyone seen research like this idea?

    I've had a concept for an SCI "cure" in my head for a long time...since my injury really. It was one of the first things I thought of when I started thinking about ways to cure SCIs. Since that time I've read dozens of research papers and scanned hundreds more and I've never seen anything like this so I'm going to put it out there in case anyone else has heard or read of such things.

    I'm a sensors person. I have a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering and I've used that background to design and characterize sensors of various types for the last 30+ years. So I'm used to thinking in terms of moving signals around.

    The idea I had was to bypass the injury area entirely. For those with longer injury sites (mine is a T3-T7) you would lose all function from the site permanently with this approach because the concept is to literally bypass that site.

    So here's how it might work:
    1. The cord would need to be cleanly cut above and below the site.
    2. The freshly cut cord would be attached to a CCD array that has been embedded in laboratory-grown tissue designed to supply bloodflow, etc. to the cord-CCD interface.
    3. The two CCD arrays (above and below the injury site) would detect cord signals (chemical reactions on the surface of the CCDs) and transmit them to the other CCD.
    4. Upon receipt of a signal from the other CCD the recipient CCD would then cause a chemical reaction at its own CCD-to-cord interface.

    Essentially the CCDs are being used as chemical reaction detectors and emitters.

    Once you can get signals across the injury site, one would need extensive training to get the brain to remap all the new connections, but neuroplasticity should make that possible.

    The big unknown part for me lies in what potentials and reactions would be needed at the CCD-to-cord interface.

    There are lots of other issues like preventing axon degradation at the interface or how to prevent movement of the CCD-to-cord interface, etc., but the concept should work in principle.

    Anyone ever hear of anything like this?
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

  2. #2
    I am getting my PhD as well, but not in materials science and engineering...what is a CCD?

  3. #3
    CCD is a receiver. Let's say it works. You also need a transmitter in both directions. How do you do that?

  4. #4
    Total dummy here, but wouldn't the volume of information be overwhelming?

  5. #5
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    CCDs are typically used as imaging arrays, but the fab methods and multilayer structures have been used to make transducer arrays. It wouldn't be an off-the-shelf CCD.

    As to the amount of data, this would be a passive device that just converts the electrochemical signals into electrical signals, then back to electrochemical signals at the other side.
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mize View Post
    CCDs are typically used as imaging arrays, but the fab methods and multilayer structures have been used to make transducer arrays. It wouldn't be an off-the-shelf CCD.

    As to the amount of data, this would be a passive device that just converts the electrochemical signals into electrical signals, then back to electrochemical signals at the other side.
    I'm much more familiar with the cellular environment of the injury site side of things, but I can't imagine a way in which electrochemical signals can be converted into electrical signals, and then back into the appropriate electrochemical signals that will reach their intended targets.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsonite View Post
    I'm much more familiar with the cellular environment of the injury site side of things, but I can't imagine a way in which electrochemical signals can be converted into electrical signals, and then back into the appropriate electrochemical signals that will reach their intended targets.
    I'm not sure what your question is here. A-B Electrochemical->Electrical->B-A Electrochemical transduction should be a huge challenge compared to the attachment and the lower-spine atrophy you mentioned.
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mize View Post
    I'm not sure what your question is here. A-B Electrochemical->Electrical->B-A Electrochemical transduction should be a huge challenge compared to the attachment and the lower-spine atrophy you mentioned.
    In a fully intact nervous system, the thought "I'm going to move my toe" originates in the brain; an electrical gradient passes from a brain neuron down into the spinal cord. At the end of that axon, chemicals jump across a synapse to another neuron that originates within the spinal cord, and starts another electrical signal that makes its way to a muscle, where more chemicals jump across a synapse on to a muscle, signalling the muscle to contract.

    Then, sensory receptors within the muscle set off an electrical reaction that travels back up to a neuron that (most often) lies just outside the spinal cord. This neuron then sends this electrical signal back in to the spinal cord, where the electrical signal travels up another axon to the brain, where finally, chemicals jump across a synapse on to another neuron in the sensory cortex (more or less, its actually a little more complicated) where you feel the sensation of your toe moving, receiving confirmation that you have moved your toe.

    My question is, how would your theoretical array be able to correctly interpret this "move my toe" signal from the brain, convert it to an electrical (digital?) signal, then on the other end make sure the "move my toe" signal gets to the neuron/axon that does indeed move your toe, rather than send it to an axon that will facilitate digestion, for instance? And on the other end, how will the sensory information from the toe moving be processed in this theoretical array, so that it gets sent back up to the brain so that you feel your toe move, rather than feel something else happening somewhere else in the body?

    I'm not trying to challenge you, just trying to understand if you've thought of these things and how it would work - again, I've got no foundation of materials or engineering or anything like that.

  9. #9
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    An interesting concept, but I think the neurotransmitter die-back which occurs when messed-with, would throw a wrench in the works. Similarly to how it does when initial injury occurs.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    An interesting concept, but I think the neurotransmitter die-back which occurs when messed-with, would throw a wrench in the works. Similarly to how it does when initial injury occurs.
    Can you elaborate?
    I was concerned about neurotransmitter depletion and that's why I added the "embedded in artificial flesh to provide bloodflow, etc." or however I stated it. I know the sensor-to-axon interface is going to be the real challenge.
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

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