At first glance, an Alzheimer’s patient and a soldier may not seem to have much in common. However, new technology may bring the two together to find a cure for both brain injuries and Alzheimer’s disease.
Implant Could Recover Task-Based Motor Skills
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at the Pentagon is working to develop a wireless brain implant that can help wounded soldiers recover lost motor skills. The brain implant could also potentially treat those with memory loss from Alzheimer’s. Although the implant is not meant to recover lost memories such as someone’s name, it could help both Alzheimer’s patients and soldiers to recover motor skills associated with activities of daily life.
Andres Lozano, University of Toronto’s chairman of neurosurgery, said that although the human memory is still a great unsolved mystery, a wireless brain implant has “tremendous value from a basic science aspect” and could have “huge implications for patients with disorders affecting memory, including those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Hope for Victims of Injury & Alzheimer’s
Right now, the project is in its very early stages. DARPA is soliciting proposals from private companies to research and possibly build the implant. The agency is requiring that any prototypes be able to implanted and all proposals must include the weight, space, power requirements, and size of the implant.
With over 2 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every year and more than 300,000 U.S. troops suffering brain injuries in the past 13 years, the wireless brain implant offers hope and a light at the end of a long tunnel.