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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/25/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Medical advance gives millions of accident victims, stroke sufferers new era of movement through thought

Science fiction becomes fact once again in the early years of the 21st century. Onlookers described as "science fiction come true." Ian Burkhart was paralyzed in a swimming accident. He's since become the first patient to move his hand using the power of thought after doctors inserted a microchip into his brain.

Ian Burkhart's initial attempt at using his thoughts to move his hand exceeded all his doctors' expectations. Doctors had originally thought he would be able to move one finger. Burkhart was able to curl his seemingly dead hand into a fist, then open it out flat and pick up a spoon.

Ian Burkhart's initial attempt at using his thoughts to move his hand exceeded all his doctors' expectations. Doctors had originally thought he would be able to move one finger. Burkhart was able to curl his seemingly dead hand into a fist, then open it out flat and pick up a spoon.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/25/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Bionic, paralysis, stroke victims, Ian Burkhart


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Burkhart was able to open and close his fist and even pick up a spoon during the first test of the chip. The medical advance is sure to bring new hope to millions of accident victims and stroke sufferers.

Doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center created the "Neurobridge" technology, whereby a microchip reads patients' thoughts in order to replace signals no longer transmitted by their broken bodies. While doctors had previous success in recent years in getting stroke victims to maneuver robotic arms using their thoughts, Burkhart is the first to move his own body.

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Paralyzed from the chest down during a swimming accident four years ago, the 23-year-old Burkhart underwent surgery in April to have the microchip implanted into his brain.

At just 0.15 inch wide, the chip has 96 electrodes which "reads" what Burkhart is thinking. The chip is housed in a port inside his skull.

After Burkhart focused intently on wiggling his fingers while the chip responded by moving an animated hand on a computer screen, the first proper test took place last week.

The port was connected to a computer which decoded the messages sent by his brain and beamed them to a sleeve containing electrodes which was placed around his forearm.

Burkhart's initial attempt at using his thoughts to move his hand exceeded all his doctors' expectations. Doctors had originally thought he would be able to move one finger. Burkhart was able to curl his seemingly dead hand into a fist, then open it out flat and pick up a spoon.

The signals sent by the computer had triggered electrodes in the sleeve which stimulated the muscles in his hand, causing them to move in the same way they would if a message had been sent directly by the brain.

"Today was great. To be able to open and close my hand and do those complex movements that I haven't been able to do for four years was great," Burkhart said. "Physically, it was a foreign feeling. Emotionally it was definitely a sense of hope and excitement to know that it's possible."

Burkhart's surgeon added that "I do believe there will be a day coming soon when somebody who's got a disability - being a quadriplegic or somebody with a stroke, somebody with any kind of brain injury - can use the power of their mind and by thinking, be able to move their arms or legs."

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