Paralyzed man gains ability to move arm with his thoughts
March 29, 2017
A paralyzed man implanted with electrodes has been given the ability to move his arm with his thoughts.
(WASHINGTON, DC) Described as “breaking ground for the spinal cord injury community,” this has come about thanks to a technology 10 years in the making.
Bill Kochevar was paralyzed in a bicycle accident eight years ago and was unable to move any part of his body beneath his shoulders. The accident damaged his spine, meaning signals from his brain were unable to reach his muscles to make them move.
The 56-year-old can now grip and hold objects, and even scratch his nose, thanks to an experimental “BrainGate2” study that has created connections between Kochevar’s brain and his right arm.
In a clinical trial at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, electrode arrays were implanted in the motor cortex of Kochevar’s brain, which can detect signals coming from the part of the brain used to control arm movement.
After four months of practice sending brain signals to move a virtual reality arm on a computer, 36 electrodes were implanted in Kochevar’s arm and hands muscles.
The system is able to detect what movements Kochevar wants to make, and then stimulate his arm muscles to make the movement.
“We have an algorithm that sort of transforms those neural signals into the movements he intended to make,” said Robert Kirsch, a Case Western biomedical engineering professor. “We can actually record signals from his brain, determine what he’s trying to do and make that happen.”
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