Smart Chip Signals Out Chronic Pain

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pain-stopping chipPatients suffering from serious chronic pain would try about anything just to get a break from hurting so much. But would they opt for an implanted device that can intercept and block pain signals on its way to the brain?

Researchers in Sidney, at the National ICT Australia (NICTA) have designed a smart chip housed in a biocompatible casing that can be embedded in the spine or somewhere else between the brain and the source of chronic pain. The chip itself is smaller than the head of a match and wired to a larger implanted device containing a computer processor and a battery which charges wirelessly from an outside source.

The smart chip can evaluate the properties of signals and identify those that carry pain to the nerve center. It then isolates the pain signal headed to the brain and sends out a 10-volt electric pulse that blocks the pain signal from reaching its receptor. It seems though it won’t be clever enough to differentiate a pain that usually warns a person of some bodily harm that may, in turn, result to greater problems.