After a broken neck left him quadriplegic, Ian Burkhart was told he would never be able to use his hands. Now he can grasp a bottle and pick up a credit card by using a computer plugged directly into his brain.
Researchers at Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute are reporting on an incredible achievement of having a quadriplegic man move his own arm by simply thinking about it.
Ian had an electrode implant fitted next to his brain that records the activity within the motor control area of the organ and he has regained an amazing degree of control over his hand, each movement stimulated by his own thoughts.
The system decodes his brain activity and uses it to control his arm muscles, bypassing his injured spine.
The electrodes are tuned to electrically stimulate the muscles similar to how the muscles would be activated naturally, resulting in a high level of control for the patient.
The researchers have published a paper in Nature detailing the technology and how they got it to work as well as it does, providing other scientists with clinicians with much needed info to push forward toward a time when spinal cord injury is not an automatic sentence to life long paralysis.
Here’s video with Ian showing off his new abilities and the scientists describing their work: