Health

Paralyzed Man Uses Thoughts To Move His Arm And Hand (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Bill Kochevar, a 56-year-old paralyzed man, was recently able to move his right arm and hand with his own thoughts (video below).

"It was amazing because I thought about moving my arm and it did. I can move it in and out, up and down," Kochevar says in a video from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Robert Kirsch, a professor of biomedical engineering at the university, says: "We've bridged his spinal cord injury. He can now think about moving his arm, and his arm moves."

"It's pretty cool," Kochevar states. "I get to be the first one in the world to do it."

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Kochevar was given this new ability by the BrainGate2 Neural Interface System, which translates his thoughts, and sends the correct signals to his muscles.

Because of the damage to Kochevar's spine from a bicycle accident, he has been paralyzed from the top of his shoulders down for eight years.

Kochevar recalls the accident in the video:

I remember up to the accident. After that, I remember bits and pieces. I was on a 150-mile bicycle ride. It was raining really badly. I was following a mail truck, and I was keeping my distance pretty good, but then it stopped to deliver a package. I ran right into the back of the mail truck.

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Researchers at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University and the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center are behind the experimental BrainGate2 system, reports NPR.

The first step was placing two electrodes in Kochevar's brain to detect signals -- thoughts -- that used to control his right hand and arm. Electrodes were also placed in the muscles that control his hand and arm.

The electrodes in the brain and muscles are able to speak to each other, and electrically stimulate the right muscles so that Kochevar can move his arm and grab objects with his hand.

Kirsch told NPR: "We record the signals from those areas, and we have an algorithm that then sort of transforms those neural signals into the movements that he intended to make."

BrainGate2 has taken more than a decade to develop, according to Kirsch, and is still only used in research labs, and requires wires going into the brain and skin to work.

"I think what we've done, though, is shown that we can put this all together and it's feasible," Kirsch stated. "We can actually record signals from his brain, determine what he's trying to do and make that happen."

"I'm still wowed every time I do something," Kochevar added. "Amazing."

Sources: NPR, Case Western Reserve University/YouTube / Photo credit: BrainGate

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