Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in association with doctors at University of Southern California (USC) and The Los Amigos Research and Education Institute, Inc. (LAREI) are conducting a study to develop a medical device called a brain-machine interface, or BMI, which uses a person’s thoughts to control an external device such as a computer cursor or robotic limb. A tiny array of sensors, called a NeuroPort Array, is placed in the brain during a surgical procedure in order sense brain activity. This device and the procedure for placing it are experimental. Information learned during this study will help to develop BMI technology for future use by paralyzed patients.
We are looking for a person who meets the following criteria:
• High cervical spinal injury
• Able to breathe on your own
• Over 18 years of age
• Live within 1 hour from Rancho and willing to commute up to 5 times per week
for study sessions
If you are interested in participating in the study or have more questions about the study, please contact Kathleen Shanfield, OTR/L, MS, ATP at 562-401-6809. If you meet the criteria listed above and express interest in participating, Kathleen will take your contact information and one of the study doctors will contact you.
You will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing to participate in the study and then you will be asked to provide your medical information and take additional screening tests to evaluate your ability to participate in the study. During this time the study doctors and personnel will also discuss the study with you and your family and/or caregivers in detail. If you and the study team agree that your participation in the study is appropriate we will schedule the surgical procedure to implant the study device.
The surgery will occur at USC with two days of recovery at USC and two days of recovery at Rancho, followed by several days of rest at home. After this rest period the study sessions will begin and you will be asked to come to Rancho 3-5 times per week for study sessions. Study sessions are expected to last for 3-4 hours. We will work with you to schedule the sessions and the costs of transportation to and from Rancho will be paid by the study.
During the study sessions you will learn how to use your thoughts to control the BMI device. You will have opportunities to use an advanced robotic limb to interact with real world objects. You will also play computer games by controlling a virtual arm in a virtual environment. As you progress and become more capable using the BMI device, we will work with you to achieve goals that you may have with the device. These goals may include, for example, some aspects of activities of daily living that are important to you.
The study is expected to last for one year and at the end of the study the Neuroport arrays will be removed in a second surgical procedure. Compensation will be provided for time spent participating in the study.