For insurers investigating personal injury claims, the world of prosthetics is ever evolving with new advancements in technology. Over the years, insurers have seen a significant increase in amputation claims costs, with more sophisticated prosthetics now being available. 

Researchers at Stanford University now say they have developed a neural probe which could improve prosthetic control in amputees. The probe, which is tiny and extremely flexible would be implanted into the blood vessels of the brain without the need for open skull surgery. It would be used to set up electrical connectivity between the brain and the prosthetic device and thus, increasing prosthetic control. 

While it is yet to be tested on humans, when tested on rats, the results revealed that the probe can be implanted into sub 100 micrometer scale blood vessels without damaging activity. In the past, this has required open skull surgery which carries risk of complications including damage to the brain. This new probe would be implanted using non-invasive techniques and the researchers say it would demonstrate long term stability and have minimal immune response. 

Although further testing is required, the suggestion is that it could be extremely beneficial for not only amputees but also patients with Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders. 

From a claims perspective, while the research at the moment is in its infancy and it is difficult to ascertain what impact these probes will have on the person once implanted, should they demonstrate the long-term stability as suggested by the researchers then there is potential for them to become a feature in amputation claims.

Mandeep is a Senior Associate Solicitor at Clyde and Co and a member of the Amputation Subject Matter Group.