Neurobridge: Paralyzed Man Becomes First to Use Power of Thought to Move HandPosted: June 24, 2014
Ohio doctors insert microchip into Ian Burkhart’s brain allowing him to move hand for first time since accident
For the Telegraph, Rosa Prince reports: A young American paralysed in a swimming accident has become the first patient to move his hand using the power of thought after doctors inserted a microchip into his brain.
“Physically, it was a foreign feeling. Emotionally it was definitely a sense of hope and excitement to know that it’s possible.”
Ian Burkhart was able to open and close his fist and even pick up a spoon during the first test of the chip, giving hope to millions of accident victims and stroke sufferers of a new bionic era of movement through thought.
Doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center created the “Neurobridge” technology, whereby a microchip reads patients’ thoughts in order to replace signals no longer transmitted by their broken bodies, in conjunction with engineers from Battelle, a non-profit research centre.
While doctors have seen some success in recent years in getting stroke victims to manoeuvre robotic arms
using their thoughts, Mr Burkhart is the first to move his own body.
Paralysed from the chest down during a swimming accident four years ago, the 23-year underwent surgery in April to drill into his skull and implant a chip into his brain.
At just 0.15 inch wide, the chip has 96 electrodes which ‘read’ what he is thinking and is housed in a port inside his skull.
After weeks of practice sessions, when Mr Burkhart focused intently on wiggling his fingers while the chip responded by moving an animated hand on a computer screen, the first proper test took place last week.
The port was connected to a computer which decoded the messages sent by his brain and beamed them to a sleeve containing electrodes which was placed around his forearm.
Mr Burkhart’s first attempt at using his thoughts to move his hand exceeded all his doctors’ expectations. While they had hoped he would be able to move one finger, he was able to curl his seemingly dead hand into a fist, open it out flat and pick up a spoon.
The signals sent by the computer had triggered electrodes in the sleeve which stimulated the muscles in his hand, causing them to move in the same way they would if a message had been sent directly by the brain.
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- Community helps Gilbert boy with Cerebral Palsy (abc15.com)
- Zoom into a microchip video causes brain meltdown in my sorry skull (sploid.gizmodo.com)
- The Quest for a Better Brain (online.wsj.com)
- Human Brain Microchip Is 9,000 Times Faster Than a PC (livescience.com)
- Your Brain in 2050: A Mishmash of Biology and Implants? (livescience.com)
- Paralyzed Woman Controls Robotic Arm With Thoughts (thekidshouldseethis.com)