Chip Allows Quadriplegic to Move His Hand
In 2010, when 19-year-old Ian Burkhart broke his neck and damaged his spinal cord while diving into a wave at North Carolina's Outer Banks, the outlook for the rest of his life was bleak. It would be his destiny to spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.
Today, thanks to what many would call a medical miracle, that’s no longer true.
On Wednesday, scientists described the incredible accomplishments achieved by the now 24-year-old, using an implanted chip that relays signals from his brain through 130 electrodes on his forearm to produce muscle movement in his hands and fingers.
For now, the new technology can only be used in the laboratory. But work is ongoing to perfect it -- with the ultimate goal being a wireless system without the need for a cable running from the head to relay brain signals.
This is without question a landmark accomplishment -- the first time that a person living with paralysis has regained movement by using signals recorded from within the brain. And to top it off, this technology has the potential to help people, not only after spinal cord injuries, but after strokes or traumatic brain injuries, as well.
Perhaps Mr. Burkhart describes the impact of this technology best, stating that it lets him function like "a normal member of society."