MIT built a snake robot that slithers inside your brain

Snake robot.


MIT

In the long list of creatures I’d like crawling inside the crevices of my brain, snakes probably rank somewhere near the bottom. Possibly dead last next to spiders and cockroaches. But that hasn’t stopped researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) creating a device in the snake’s image. A robot snake, if you will, designed to treat the immediate symptoms of strokes and aneurysms.

It’s a robotic device, in the shape of a thread, controlled with magnets. The idea: use this terrifying snake-thread to clear the blood clots in the brain that often manifest in the aftermath of a stroke or an aneurysm.

Currently, this sort of surgery is done using catheters manually threaded by surgeons. This snake-like device could be a pathway to a more efficient form of treatment because with this sort of operation time is of the essence.

“Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States,” explained Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT. “If acute stroke can be treated within the first 90 minutes or so, patients’ survival rates could increase significantly.

“If we could design a device to reverse blood vessel blockage within this ‘golden hour,’ we could potentially avoid permanent brain damage. That’s our hope.”

The snake robot is easier to navigate than a catheter, and smaller — which means it can glide through areas of the brain with a smaller diameter.

You can read more about the research, and the robot itself, here.