A 23-year old man has moved his hand after four years of paralysis thanks to a revolutionary new brain implant which bypasses damaged nerves and sends the messages straight to his muscles.
The process, called Neurobridge was developed by surgeons at Ohio State University and researchers at Battelle and works by taking the signals created in the brain's motor centre and then sending them externally to the muscles.
23-year old Ian Burkhart was paralysed after a driving accident leaving him with severe nerve damage. Neurobridge counteracts these nerves by leaving them out of the process altogether, instead going via external cables straight to his arm.
While the signal takes less than a tenth of a second to be sent, that's still considerably slower than the human brain is capable. That said it should be more than enough to make a noticeable difference to people's lives.
In a statement after the test, W. Jerry Mysiw, MD, Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ohio State explains the significance it has for him and his team.
“I’ve been doing rehabilitation for a lot of years, and this is a tremendous stride forward in what we can offer these people. Now we're examining human-machine interfaces and interactions, and how that type of technology can help.”
Burkhart hasn't been able to move his left arm in nearly four years so for him to be able to finally move it again just by using his own thoughts is a massive step in the right direction, both for him and the technology.