A wireless brain implant allowing wounded soldiers to recover motor skills lost through head trauma is currently being looked at by a Pentagon agency that is soliciting proposals from private companies to research -- and potentially build --the technology.
Bloomberg reports the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s RFP could also one day have wide-ranging consequence to the so-far, predominately stymied efforts to successfully treat the nearly 2 million Americans annually diagnosed with memory loss from such debilitating illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease.
“The way human memory works is one of the great unsolved mysteries,” Andres Lozano, the University of Toronto’s chairman of neurosurgery, told Bloomberg. “This has tremendous value from a basic science aspect. It may have huge implications for patients with disorders affecting memory, including those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
According to Bloomberg, “the Darpa initiative isn’t designed to recover the type of memories used to recall a person’s name, [but] instead…help wounded warriors recover ‘task-based motor skills necessary for ‘life or livelihood.’”
The news agency cites documents posted online by Darpa in reporting the agency is mandating any conceptual prototype derived from the research “must incorporate implantable probes,” and any firm submitting a proposal must include the size, size, weight, spacing, power requirements and specific areas of the brain to be targeted.
More than 200,000 U.S. troops have reportedly suffered brain injuries in the last 13 years