"We have managed to develop a neuroprosthetics that is able to identify if the person is trembling or not and if he wants to execute voluntary movements or not, in which case, through functional electrical stimulation, he stabilizes the tremor "This is how José Luis Pons explained it, responsible for the project and researcher of the Institute of Industrial Automation of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC) of Spain.
In May of this year, he announced a prototype that integrates sensors able to measure movement and eliminate some of the uncontrolled tremors generated by neurodegenerative diseases.
Currently this type of tremors, present in problems such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, are treated by medication or deep brain stimulation.
25% or patients do not respond to any of the therapies, so this system provides an alternative for a large number of patients.
The new device, which could be available in the market within 5 years, can identify if the person wants to perform voluntary movements, such as raising a glass, increasing their quality of life and reinforcing independence in daily activities.
The device, currently a prototype, consists of a set of sensors that are capable of measuring the entire chain of generation of movement, from the origin of the 'order' in the brain to its execution.
"We use an encephalography helmet that detects the intention of the user's movement, that is, when he wants to start moving, and we have electrodes that measure muscle activity, so we can know when he is moving and, through other types of sensors , called inertials, how is that movement, "says Eduardo Rocón, another of the authors associated with the project.
In this way, the neuroprosthesis is able to know when the person wants to execute a voluntary movement, how to grab an object or move the arm to the right. This is important because the system only eliminates tremors if they are going to interfere with the movement, in order not to tire the muscle.
Pons explains that there are two ways to eliminate the tremor: one is stabilizing the arm, in which case what is done is to force the rigidity of the muscle so that it is the arm itself that filters the trembling movements. The other way is that if it is detected that the arm is shaking in one direction, an action is applied that moves it in the opposite direction so that the sum of both produces stability. The researchers estimate that by the end of the year the tests with patients will be completed, which are being carried out in Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain.