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Technology continues to advance at an astounding rate – and perhaps the most exciting implications come from the medical field.

Consider these two recent news events with mind-boggling implications:

For the first time, a wireless brain implant has enabled paralyzed primates to walk again

Read this Sciencealert article here. This is exactly what it sounds like – hope that a new brain implant could help us teach paralyzed bodies to walk again. An excerpt:

When we walk, electrical signals that originate in the brain’s motor cortex are sent down to the lumbar region in the lower spinal cord. Once there, they activate motor neurons that help us coordinate the movement of leg muscles necessary for walking.

But injuries to the upper spine can sever this communication channel between the brain and the lower spinal cord — meaning the signals can’t get through to coordinate our leg movements.

The goal of the team … was to restore this lost movement, by sending the same brain signals wirelessly, bypassing the severed nerves altogether.

How does this work? Scientists implanted a pill-sized electrode array in the brain to capture movement signals generated by the motor cortex. A wireless sensor broadcasts the signals to computer, which translates them and sends the message on to an electrical stimulator implanted in the lumbar spine below the injury.

There are short-comings and challenge areas, but the findings could be life-changing to those with these specialized injuries. Read the article to find out more.


Florida doctors separate conjoined twins connected at heart with help of 3-D printing

Read this abc article here. Doctors in Gainesville, Florida, recently announced that the conjoined twin separation that they completed last summer was made possible through the use of a 3-D printer.

Though the surgery took place in June, the girls only recently got to go home from the hospital. They waited to announce the successful surgery until they were safely on their way to healing.

Though the girls had their own separate organs, they were attached at the liver, diaphragm, sternum, and heart. An excerpt from the article:

To help doctors prepare for the risky procedure, they worked with 3D Systems to print what they believe is the first-ever 3-D printed conjoined twin heart, UF Health said.

The life-sized model allowed surgeons to examine the twins’ shared structures in the heart and practice the surgical separation itself, the health system explained.

The surgery took almost eight hours to complete.