Muscles Shocked Stiff
** " "** 6 - 10 years
One hundredth the size of a AA battery, the Bion, already used to strengthen muscles in arthritis sufferers and stroke victims, could soon bring movement back to paralyzed limbs. In clinical trials, doctors are injecting this 16-millimeter-long capsule of electrode-capped glass into lifeless muscle. The patient activates it to mimic nerve impulses, forcing the muscle to contract. This year the researchers, led by Gerald Loeb of the University of Southern California, will add sensors that take cues from motor nerves and send feedback to the Bion, making the system fully automatic.