Man paralyzed in accident from shoulders down can now feed himself, drink water — even scratch his nose
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In another dramatic breakthrough for BrainGate, the neuroscience consortium that includes Brown University and the Providence VA Medical Center, new technology has allowed a man paralyzed from the shoulders down to move his arm and hand again. He can now feed himself, drink water from a mug — and even scratch his nose.
“For somebody who’s been injured eight years and couldn’t move, being able to move just that little bit is awesome to me,” said the man, Bill Kochevar, 56, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a bicycling accident. “It’s better than I thought it would be.”
Kochevar achieved these abilities with the use of BrainGate’s investigational brain-computer interface in combination with a the consortium’s so-called functional electronic stimulation system, which was implanted in the Cleveland man’s arm.
The advance is deemed so significant that it is featured this week on the online edition of The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, published since 1823.
“It’s so inspiring to watch Mr. Kochevar move his own arm and hand just by thinking about it,” said Dr. Leigh Hochberg, a study co-author and director of the BrainGate2 pilot clinical trial. “As an extraordinary participant in this research, he’s teaching us how to design a new generation of neurotechnologies that we all hope will one day restore mobility and independence for people with paralysis.”
The technology “works by detecting neural signals acquired from electrodes implanted in the surface of the motor cortex of the brain,” according to Brown. “Those signals are translated by the collaboration’s algorithms into movement commands for assistive devices. In the new research, the movement commands were relayed to a functional electronic stimulation…