A bankrupt company has abandoned its clients with brain implants to the mercy of its own
Categories: Health and MedicineBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/a-bankrupt-company-has-abandoned-its-clients-with-brain-implants-to-the-mercy-of-its-own
Technological progress is very good. But, unfortunately, we become dependent on technology and this can lead to trouble. No, now we are not talking about addiction to social networks, but about much more dangerous phenomena. For example, about implants with electronic stuffing, which companies implant into the bodies of their customers.
Imagine that you bought an expensive laptop with a warranty from a store. But soon it stopped working, and you decided to take it back. But a pet store turned out to be in place of the outlet, and no one answers phone calls. Agree, an unpleasant situation. But the problem can be solved by contacting other masters. And now imagine a situation where the problem arose with an innovative chip implanted in the brain. Yes, not simple, but what helps to see.
The customers of the American company Second Sight Medical Products (SSMP) from Los Angeles found themselves in a terrible situation. The company was engaged in the creation of visual implants that are implanted into the brain of a blind person and help partially restore vision. In 2020, the company suspended its activities, and in 2022 announced that it was part of a concern operating in a completely different field.
For 20 years of its activity, Second Sight Medical Products has managed to install implants to 350 people. All of them had devices implanted in their retinas and brains so they could see. Now they are left alone with their problems, without technical and medical support.
As you know, there is nothing eternal. Moreover, this applies to complex electronic devices. They become outdated, break down, require software updates and just setup. Nobody knows what to do next for SSMP patients. Most of these people have developed unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness and inflammation. Some even need surgery.
It should be noted that an implant implanted in the brain or eye is not the same as a dental or breast implant. Only a very high profile specialist can remove it, and this operation will be risky and expensive. And third-party specialists don't really want to remove these devices, because they have to take responsibility for the work done by others.
Neural implants are miniature electronic devices that interact with the nervous system. They can be installed both on the periphery and implanted directly into the brain. This is a very promising technology that helps to deal with a lot of serious problems that were previously considered hopeless.
With the help of deep brain stimulators, you can reduce tremor in people with Parkinson's disease or get rid of epileptic seizures. In recent years, advances in neurology and digital technologies have pushed this direction far ahead. Elon Musk's company is investing tens of millions of dollars in the Neuralink project. Successful experiments have already been conducted on monkeys who have been taught to play video games with the power of thought.
Many companies promise to use neural implants to cure Alzheimer's disease, limb mobility and even give people superpowers. Many of them turn out to be scammers, pulling money out of customers, but there are also serious firms with very real offers.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how a particular company will behave, and the example with Second Sight Medical Products clearly shows this. The company specialized in restoring the function of vision in the completely blind and visually impaired. Of course, the implant could not make the blind sighted. But thanks to devices implanted in the retina or brain, many were able to see light and even silhouettes of objects.
It is difficult for people who see to imagine how important even such modest progress is for those who have been immersed in darkness for years. Some SSMP patients were even able to walk the streets without a cane and do their own shopping in stores! But now they are desperate and do not know what is happening to the electronic devices that have become part of their brain.
In 2020, SSMP conducted bankruptcy proceedings and stopped working. None of the firm's clients received a notice of termination — everything happened in secret from them. Ross Doerr, who lives with an implant, spoke on Facebook about his serious problem:
The implant was inserted into Ross in 2019. He remembers the delight he felt when he saw the lights of the Christmas tree. At the beginning of 2020, he received an alert that an update was ready for his device. Thanks to the new software, the man had to see even better.
But the pandemic disrupted the plans and the visit to the SSMP office had to be postponed. And then Ross found out that the company was having problems. He called his rehabilitation therapist and was shocked by the news. The doctor told him this:
But vision problems are not the only concern of a man right now. Recently at Ross was suspected of having a brain tumor. In order to undergo an MRI and clarify the diagnosis, he needs a response from the implant manufacturer. You need to be sure that the chip will not explode in the patient's head during the diagnosis. But it was not possible to get an answer from SSMP. Ross Doerr still doesn't know if he has a tumor or not.
Barbara Campbell has another problem. Her Second Sight implant just shut down while she was riding the subway. Now a woman has an absolutely useless device in her head and no one knows how it behaves. Barbara has also been trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with specialists for many months.
The collapse of the company caught not only patients by surprise, but also employees of the company. Most specialists have preserved a human face and are trying to help patients to the best of their abilities. However, doing this without access to the company's laboratory is very difficult and even dangerous.
Doctors and technicians still have a lot of software, tools and consumables in their hands. But they cannot use them to the full for obvious reasons. Some are also afraid of responsibility, because if something goes wrong, they will face prison.
The neuroimplant from Second Sight with installation and service cost each patient 150 thousand dollars (11.3 million rubles). Most of this amount was paid by insurance companies. Recently it turned out that SSMP miscalculated. The amounts paid to them did not cover even half of the costs associated with the manufacture, installation and maintenance of devices.
But people left without help have hope for a solution to the problem. The Nano Precision Medical company, which the dishonest SSMP joined, promised to figure it out and do "the right thing from an ethical point of view." At least that's what Adam Mendelsohn, the firm's director, said.
Now the technical specialists and lawyers of the united company are looking for ways to solve the problem. They do not yet know what obligations they will have to Second Sight customers. And in general, it is not known for sure whether any help will be provided. We can only wait and hope for the best.
I wonder if people who have implanted electronic devices into their bodies for the sake of PR or entertainment are aware of what they may encounter?