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Solar Cells May Restore Brain Function Following a Head Injury

Solar Cells May Regenerate Brain Function Following a TBI

When someone suffers a traumatic injury, most of the body’s cells can heal and regain their original functions. Unfortunately, this is not the case with brain cells.

In a traumatic brain injury, any damaged neurons are usually lost forever. This is the reason why many complications following a TBI are generally permanent. Numbness, weakness, and paralysis that develops after a head injury have the potential to impact someone for the rest of his or her life. Now, a team of medical professionals is looking to develop a treatment that may change all of this.

How the Solar Cell Treatment Works

Using a generous grant from the Carlsberg Foundation, a team of medical scientists is developing a treatment that can stimulate cells in the brain electrically. Neurons work using electrical signals. As neurotransmitters flow in and out of the brain’s cells, the difference between positive and negative charges generates an electrical signal. This signal travels down the length of the neuron, stimulating functions throughout the body. When neurons are damaged, this electrical signal is lost, leading to complications.

The theory behind this treatment is based on the use of electrical signals. When a neuron is damaged, electrical signals are no longer able to reach their final destinations. If there is a way to stimulate cells without requiring a neuronal connection, the brain’s functions might be restored.

The model is based on solar cells that are already used to generate environmentally-friendly energy, thus the name. A solar cell takes light and converts it into electricity. The idea behind the treatment is that the electricity from the solar cell can be used to power the brain’s cells.

Getting Solar Cells Into the Brain’s Tissues

While placing solar cells on a building to generate electricity has already proven successful, getting the same technology to work in the brain’s cells is a different matter entirely. The team is building nanofibers that can be placed within the cells of the brain. These nanofibers are coated with a semiconductor that can absorb light. Therefore, when the nanofibers are exposed to an external light source, they can convert this light to electricity. Electricity is then used to power damaged brain cells, restoring their functions.

The research scientists state that even though the nanofibers are going to be placed underneath hair, skin, and bony tissues, they will still be able to absorb light. When someone walks outside, enough of the sun’s rays still penetrate the body’s surface and reach the brain’s cells underneath. Right now, the team is coming up with a strategy to implant the nanofibers using a surgical procedure.

Future Directions

Currently, there isn’t a readily available treatment to restore brain cells once they have been damaged or lost. This project seeks to join the fields of biology and electronics to help the millions of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury every year. This is the first medical treatment to target damaged cells individually to restore their function.

If this treatment proves to be successful in the clinical setting, it may be possible to regenerate lost neural functions even after a severe TBI. The use of biological solar cells may have a significant impact on the future of modern medicine. It remains to be seen how this treatment will perform once it exits the laboratory and enters emergency departments and operating rooms. This treatment provides hope to millions of people who may develop complications following a head injury.

Watch YouTube Video: How Do Solar Cells Work? The animated video below explains how solar cells produce electricity.

Sacramento Brain Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Brain Injury Attorney. Solar cells might be able to restore brain function following a severe head injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident, please contact me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly and compassionate advice.

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Photo by Chelsea on Unsplash

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