Stanford's brain implant helps woman regain cognitive function after traumatic injury

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Stanford's brain implant helps woman regain cognitive function
Stanford Medicine's brain implant is helping one woman regain her cognitive function after a traumatic brain injury.

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- After bringing back the ability to speak for patients living with ALS, Stanford Medicine is tackling the struggles faced by those with traumatic brain injuries.

The simple things we take for granted are all precious gifts to Modesto resident Gina Arata.

"Outside like the birds and the noises and the sunlight - even walking, putting on your own shoes, buttoning your pants," Arata said.

Simple things that she was not able to do just a few years ago.

A devastating car accident in 2001 left Arata with burst lungs and brain bruising and searing -- she was in a coma for 14 days.

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When she woke up, the law school hopeful was no longer able to comprehend books or even normal conversations.

"Like you could tell me something and I would ask you the same question like five minutes later," Arata said. "They would be like, 'I answered that question already for you.' But I had no idea, no recollection."

In 2018, Arata was presented with a chance to fix the problems she was having through Stanford Medicine.

A first of its kind procedure that would surgically implant a device deep in her brain to stimulate and activate the neural networks that were subdued by the car crash.

Stanford's Dr. Jaimie Henderson said brain functions can be dimmed after traumatic injury and these sensors turned the dimmer switch back up for Arata.

VIDEO: Paralyzed man walks again with help of 'brain bridge' implant

A paralyzed man is able to walk again with the help of a brain bridge implant.

"When we activated the stimulator the results were actually pretty remarkable," Henderson said. She went from being unable to read through a novel or book to actually reading and remembering novels."

"I wasn't capable of holding down a relationship, I wasn't capable of having children and being a mother," Arata said. "And I feel like this device is giving me the opportunity to possibly have those."

More than 5 million Americans live with impacts from severe traumatic brain injuries, and Arata hopes her willingness to be the first patient to try this new procedure can help others going forward.

"I hope that I can provide the opportunity for other people who suffer from injuries such as a brain injury, so they can provide them with the opportunity to have families, have relationships, get a job and drive their cars," Arata said.

Essentially, to live the life they thought was lost.

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