Paralyzed Man Regains Movement by Using His Own Thoughts
It’s pretty well known that a spinal cord injury causes paralysis, and that the closer to the brain the spinal cord is severed the higher up the paralysis occurs.
Six years ago, Ian Burkhart suffered a C5 spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Essentially what this means is that the signals from his brain that control body movement are blocked high up in his neck and can’t make it down to allow to him to move most parts of his body. This prevents him from simple tasks involving his hands such as holding a cup or pinching his thumb and forefinger together to pick something up.
But a new discovery is “literally reconnecting the brain to the body,” according to Chad Bouton of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. To make this happen, scientists have developed a computer system that has learned to recognize the neural signals that accompanied each type of movement, and an algorithm translated those signals into movement commands.
This is amazing stuff. Neuroscientists believe that this technology could eventually help paralyzed patients walk again.