Paralysis Victim Regains Use of Hand by Using Brain Implant
Both accidents and diseases can lead to paralysis and loss of use of limbs. Doctors have been working for decades to identify the mechanisms that cause paralysis and repair spinal cord damage to restore function. In recent years, another area of study is looking at exoskeletons and technology, such as a brain implant, to restore functionality.
An Ohio man who became paralyzed after he suffered a neck injury while diving is now able to grasp a cup, hold a phone to his ear, and even use individual fingers to push buttons on a video game. The restoration of function comes from a tiny implant on the motor cortex of his brain that bypasses the spinal cord and sends movement signals directly to the muscles in his hand.
A sleeve of muscle stimulation sensors translates the signals from the brain implant and tells specific muscles to move, allowing grasping and manipulation movements.
The Ohio man is just one of five participants in a federally approved study that focuses on using the new system to restore mobility in paralyzed patients. The second participant will begin working with the technology sometime in the summer of 2016.
Until doctors can develop a method of repairing damaged spinal cords or restoring brain signal pathways to paralyzed limbs, external technology and brain implants may be the best option to help victims of paralysis live a normal life.
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