Experts in the US are developing micro-electronic circuitry that can rewire brain connections that get damaged by trauma.
Pedram Mohseni, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University, and Randolph J Nudo, professor of molecular and integrative physiology at Kansas University Medical Centre, are trying to guide the growth of axons in a brain damaged by an exploding bomb, car crash or stroke.
They believe repeated communications between distant neurons in the weeks after injury may spark long-reaching axons to form and connect.
The study could be important for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq who are victims of brain trauma despite improvements in helmets and armour.
Brain damage includes loss of coordination, balance, mobility, memory and problem-solving skills, with soldiers suffering from mood swings, depression, anxiety, aggression, social inappropriateness and emotional outbursts.
"The month following injury is a window of opportunity. We believed we can do this with an injured brain, which is very malleable," Mohseni said.
A microchip on a circuit amplifies signals produced by the neurons in one part of the brain. It then sends a current pulse to stimulate neurons in another part of the brain, artificially connecting the two brain regions.
Nudo has been studying and mapping brain connectivity in a rat model and developing a traumatic brain injury model to test the device and the neuro-anatomical rewiring theory.