An artificial nervous system to treat chronic stroke

Artif Organs. 2021 Aug;45(8):804-812. doi: 10.1111/aor.13998. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


Despite remarkable advances in the treatment of numerous medical conditions, neurological disease and injury remains an outstanding challenge and cause of disability worldwide. The decreased regenerative capacity and extreme complexity and heterogeneity of nervous tissue, in particular the brain, and the fact that the brain remains the least understood organ, have hampered our ability to provide definitive treatments for prevalent conditions such as stroke. Stroke is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, and the nervous system is intimately involved in other prevalent conditions including ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. Advances in neuromodulation, electroceuticals, microsurgical techniques, optogenetics, brain-computer interfaces, and autologous constructs offer potential solutions to address the otherwise permanent neurological deficits of stroke and other conditions. Here we review these various approaches to build an "artificial nervous system" that could restore function and independence in people living with these conditions. We focus on stroke both because it is the leading cause of neurological disability worldwide and because we anticipate that advances in the reversal of stroke-related deficits will have ripple effects benefiting people with other neurological conditions including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, ALS, and muscular dystrophy.

Keywords: brain computer interface; neuromodulation; neurorehabilitation; neurorestoration; neurotechnology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Nerve Transfer
  • Neurofeedback
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Wearable Electronic Devices