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Despite being forced by Hurricane Irma to close its outpatient facilities for several days, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is expected to forge ahead this month with a pivotal clinical trial testing whether an electrical implant can rewire the brains of stroke patients so they can use their arms and hands again.

If the patients who receive implants regain significantly more function than those who get only standard rehabilitation, it will show that stroke-damaged brain circuits can be bypassed like shorts in a circuit board, with healthy neurons coaxed into performing the job of those fried by stroke.


Although the results might not be make-or-break for the little 11-year-old Texas company sponsoring the trial (called MicroTransponder, the company’s also testing whether an electrical implant can alleviate tinnitus), there will be more evidence of whether “electroceuticals” — electrical stimuli tailored to treat diseases — work beyond their current use in controlling pain and a few other conditions or will fall short of the buzz surrounding them.

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