4. Implanted brain chip helps man regain use of his arm
A paralyzed Ohio man was able to move his arm in simple tasks again after having his brain wired to a sleeve of electrodes that stimulated his muscles.
Ian Burkhart broke his neck diving into a wave years ago. The mistake left him partially paralyzed – he could move his arms and shoulders some, but not his hands. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center research lab is helping Burkhart regain mobility in his hands.
The researchers used Battelle’s NeuroLife technology to help Burkhart push buttons for a video game and swipe credit cards.
“The project reinstalled hope that there are things coming down the pipeline that will improve the quality of life for people like me,” said Burkhart in a press release.
A computer chip smaller than a pea gets inserted into the brain. Then an external wired link gets plugged into a small port in the patient’s head. That wired connection carried thoughts and brain signals to a computer that is able to translate them. The translated messages travel to an electrode sleeve on the patient’s arm that is able to send pulses to muscles that allow the patient to move their wrist and hand. The entire process takes less than a second to happen, so movements aren’t delayed.
“We’re hoping that this technology will evolve into a wireless system connecting brain signals and thoughts to the outside world to improve the function and quality of life for those with disabilities,” said Ali Rezai, director of OSU’s Center for Neuromodulation.