TECH

A Paralysed Man Can Now Play Guitar Hero Due To An Incredible Brain Chip

'It was something that I hadn’t been able to do for about three years.'

14/04/2016 13:31

A paralysed man has been able to move his hand for the first time after having a brain chip implanted two years ago.

Ian Burkhart has gained movement in his right arm hand and wrist thanks to technology that sends signals from his brain to his muscles. 

The 24-year-old was paralysed from the shoulders down after he broke his neck while diving on beach holiday, Nature reports

Handout . / Reuters
Ian Burkhart, 24, had a neck injury while on a beach holiday. 

According to doctors, the technology works by decoding Burkhart's thoughts and electrically stimulating his muscles - a process which bypasses his spinal injury. 

The research was carried out by Chad Bouton from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York. 

Bouton and team began their research by identifying the region in Burkhart's brain responsible for movement while he mimicked videos of hand movements, Nature reports. 

The chip was then implanted through surgery and it is designed to pick up electrically activity that occurs when Burkhart thinks about moving his hand. 

This activity is then passed onto to a computer, connected through a cable, which uses an algorithm to transfer the electrical messages. 

These signals are then passed onto a flexible sleeve that stimulates Burkhart's muscles and allows for movement. 

 As a result of the setup he is now able to pick up a glass of water and play Guitar Hero. 

"The first day that we hooked it up I was able to get movement," Burkhart told Nature. 

"It was something really small — being able to open and close my hand — but it was something that I hadn’t been able to do for about three years.

"So it reinstated a lot of hope that people with my kind of injury won’t just have to settle.

"Since then, we’ve been able to do a bunch of things that someone with my kind of injury should not be able to do."

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