Washington: For the first time, a paralyzed person has been able to perform complex tasks involving hand, wrist and finger movements using signals recorded from his own brain.
Six years ago, Ian Burkhart was paralyzed in a diving accident. Today, he participates in clinical sessions during which he can grasp and swipe a credit card or play a guitar video game with his own fingers and hand. These complex functional movements are driven by his own thoughts and a prototype medical system that are detailed in a new study.
The device, called NeuroLife, was invented at Battelle, which teamed with physicians and neuroscientists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to develop the research approach and perform the clinical study. Ohio State doctors identified the study participant and implanted a tiny computer chip into his brain.
"I just kind of think that it's my obligation to society," Burkhart said. "If someone else had an opportunity to do it in some other part of the world, I would hope that they would commit their time so that everyone can benefit from it in the future."
Rezai and the team from Battelle agree that this technology holds the promise to help patients affected by various brain and spinal cord injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury to be more independent and functional.
"Participating in this research has changed me in the sense that I have a lot more hope for the future now," Burkhart said. "I always did have a certain level of hope, but now I know, first-hand, that there are going to be improvements in science and technology that will make my life better."
The study is published online in the journal Nature.