We have been hearing all about prosthetic organs for quite a while but what if we told you it’s possible to move your hands and fingers with the help of your thoughts? That’s exactly what Ohio State University and Battelle researchers have been able to achieve with their brain implant. Thanks to them, a quadriplegic man is now able to move his hands and fingers with his thoughts. Meet Ian Burkhart who is paralyzed and was a participant in the clinical trial Neurobridge conducted by the Ohio State University.

Thoughts move limbs
Ohio State University

Patients with severe injuries to the spinal cord were the primary target of this new technology whereby brain signals are translated as well as transmitted to the muscles using a chip. This, in turn, reestablishes the connection between the brain and the paralyzed part of the body. The tiny chip needs to be implanted into the brain’s motor cortex. The brain signals are then transmitted to a computer which makes use of algorithms in order to translate them. A non-invasive high definition stimulation sleeve fitted on to the individual’s limb then stimulates the target muscles that execute movement.

Chad Bouton from the research team said, “It is much like a heart bypass, but instead of bypassing blood, we are actually bypassing electrical signals. We are taking those signals from the brain, going around the injury, and actually going directly to the muscles.”

A new software system added to the mix performs as a virtual spinal cord for the individual executing any type of movements. This only sounds like a lengthy process but in actuality, it is a matter of seconds before the thoughts are translated into action.

Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ohio State Dr. Jerry Mysiw said, “I have been doing rehabilitation for a lot of years, and this is a tremendous stride forward in what we can offer these people. Now we are examining human-machine interfaces and interactions, and how that type of technology can help.”