Ian Burkhart was just a teenager when he lost all movement in his hands and legs.
He dove into a wave in shallow water, and what was just supposed to be a fun outing with friends turned into a disaster. Damaging his spinal cord, he was paralyzed from the chest down with limited control over his arms. Burkhart, now 24, thought that he’d never be able to move his fingers again. He was, by most accounts, a quadriplegic.
But that all changed recently…
Scientists developed a chip that was inserted into his brain, allowing him to move his right hand.
“The first time moving my hand — that was really just like that flicker of hope,” Burkhart commented.
The implant traces signals in the brain that are then sent to a computer to be decoded. Once the signals are decoded, the computer stimulates the correct muscles through a sleeve on the arm, thus allowing movement.
All of this happens in less than a tenth of a second.
The Ohio State University researchers believe this is a huge medical breakthrough and the most significant of its kind since 2012, when a woman was able to control a robotic arm with her thoughts. Now people are able to control their own limbs!
Here’s more information on how the ground-breaking system works.
Needless to say, Burkhart is excited about being able to move his hand with this technology. Scientists are overjoyed as well — this step forward could lead to something even bigger. If they keep developing this technology, we could potentially rid society of paralysis!