Thanks to a new neural implant, a man who is paralyzed from the neck down is now able to move his hand. Ian Burkhart, a 23-year-old man from Ohio, became paralyzed in 2010 after breaking his spine in a diving accident. However, thanks to technology developed at The Ohio State University, Ian has new hope. A new device called a “Neurobridge,” has successfully been able to transmit brainwaves to a computer, which can then stimulate muscle fibers and induce specific movement. In the first successful test of the new technology, Burkhart was able to curl his hand into a fist, and to successfully grab a spoon.
Ohio State researcher Chad Bouton says that while the technology is new, the idea is based on existing concepts: ‘It’s like a heart bypass, but we’re bypassing electrical signals instead of blood. We take signals from the brain, go around the injury and go directly to the muscles,’ says Bouton.
While the technology is still in it’s early stages, the groundwork has been laid for greater things to come. Provided the rest of the Neurobridge Program’s initial tests go well, the eventual goal will be to find additional opportunities to use the technology, such as rehabilitation for stroke victims.