Mar 30, 2017 07:46 AM EDT
Case Western Reserve University Reveals How To Move Paralytic Arm Using The Mind
Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University introduced a remarkable brain implant system that enables the mobilization of a paralytic arm. Bill Kochevar, 56, was able to feed himself with just his thoughts. He has been paralyzed for eight years.
It was truly a defining moment for Kochevar given that he has not seen any type of body movement for nearly a decade. The Case Western Reserve University partnered with the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center to realize the project. On the other hand, the process of making body parts functional again is called "neuroprosthetic".
According to Technology Review, the implant contains two tiny recording chips placed in Kochevar's motor cortex. Each of them measures about the size of a pill containing 96 electrodes. Additional 36 electrodes were then embedded in his right arm. Through weekly visits at an Ohio lab, signals from his brain are being collected and then sent to his paralyzed arm to make simple voluntary movements.
Now, Kochevar is able to drink coffee and feed himself mashed potatoes. While he still cannot do more complex tasks like slicing meat, scientists are surely working on it. Kochevar also needs to rest his arm once in a while using a mechanized harness.
Smithsonian then reported that Kochevar and the researches took quite a long time learning to use the implant. A press release actually confirmed that the team spent 45 weeks to perfect the movement. Nonetheless, all that Kochevar could say was "I was completely amazed."
Unfortunately, the current model is only for research use as of now. Thus, do not expect it to be out in the market just yet. Though, the researchers vowed to make it available in the near future. In fact, they even intend to do some improvements like adding wireless brain implants to add precision to the movements.
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