The human cost of neurotechnology failure
|When the makers of electronic implants abandon their projects, people who rely on the devices have everything to lose.
|Hundreds of thousands of people benefit from implanted neurotechnology every day. Among the most common devices are spinal-cord stimulators, first commercialized in 1968, that help to ease chronic pain. Cochlear implants that provide a sense of hearing, and deep-brain stimulation (DBS) systems that quell the debilitating tremor of Parkinson’s disease, are also established therapies.
When the makers of implanted devices go under, the implants themselves are typically left in place — surgery to remove them is often too expensive or risky, or simply deemed unnecessary. But without ongoing technical support from the manufacturer, it is only a matter of time before the programming needs to be adjusted or a snagged wire or depleted battery renders the implant unusable.
People are then left searching for another way to manage their condition, but with the added difficulty of a non-functional implant that can be an obstacle both to medical imaging and future implants.
|nature, 6 Dec 2022
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