Science fiction comes true: Paralyzed man moves arm with his thoughts using microchip in his brain
National Post | June 25, 2014
An American man who was paralyzed 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.
Ian Burkhart, 23, 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.
Onlookers described the moment as like watching “science fiction come true”.
The “Neurobridge” technology, whereby a microchip reads patients’ thoughts to replace signals no longer transmitted by their bodies, was created by doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and engineers from a non-profit research centre called Battelle.
Doctors have had success in recent years in getting stroke victims to manoeuvre robotic arms using their thoughts, but Burkhart is the first to be able to move his body.
Burkhart, from Columbus, Ohio, was injured at the age of 19 after diving into the sea and hitting a shallow sandbank, causing catastrophic damage to his spinal chord and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
He underwent surgery in April to drill into his skull and implant the chip into a port in his brain. At one fifteenth of an inch wide, the chip has 96 electrodes which “read” what the patient is thinking.
After weeks of practice, during which Burkhart focused intently on wiggling his fingers while the chip responded by moving an animated hand on a screen, the first proper test took place last week. A computer sent his brain messages to a sleeve containing electrodes, which stimulated his muscles.
The test exceeded all expectations. Burkhart said: “To be able to open and close my hand and do those complex movements was great. Physically, it was a foreign feeling. Emotionally it was definitely a sense of hope and excitement to know that it’s possible.”
Labels: New World Order