This Brain Implant Could Change Lives

This Brain Implant Could Change Lives

I had just finished my freshman
year of college. I was out in the ocean and I dove out and
into a wave, something I had done many times
before. I dove into a sandbar that had drifted in, which fractured my spine and damaged my spinal cord, and that left me as a C5 quadriplegic. I kept asking the doctors, what can I look
forward to in the future? One of my doctors said, hey, we want to try
this muscle stimulation device. It really sounds like it’s something out
of a science fiction novel: reconnecting my mind to my body. Spinal trauma is one of the toughest
problems in medicine. There’s currently no biological way of healing
severe damage to the spinal cord. Recently, scientists have started developing
a workaround: creating an artificial link between the brain and the body. GAURAV SHARMA: My name is Gaurav Sharma, I’m
the lead investigator on the NeuroLife program at Battelle. So NeuroLife is an electronic neural bypass
technology that can link the brain directly to the limb it controls. We are developing this technology for people
with paralysis due to spinal cord injury, so they can regain control of their own hand. Ian Burkhart is our first patient in this
study. Being injured at the C5 level means that
I have pretty good strength through my biceps, but I don’t really have any movement below
my elbows at all. I rely on other people to help me every single
day. They help me get dressed, get transferred
into my wheelchair, um, brush my hair; and then at the end of the day I also need help
doing everything in reverse to get ready for bed. Independence is my number one goal, and regaining
any use of my hands will really improve my independence, so it was something I was all for. You good? Yeah I’m set. So this technology has 3 main
components. The first component is a tiny chip that is
surgically implanted in Ian’s brain, and that records Ian’s brain activity as he’s
thinking about moving his hand. You want a little bit more slack? No that’s fine. It’s good? OK cool. GAURAV: The second component is a computer
algorithm that decodes Ian’s brain activity and interprets the movement he is thinking
about. And the last component is a wearable sleeve
which has up to 160 electrodes, which activates the individual muscles to evoke the attempted
movement. You said hand open first? Hand open first, yeah. When I first started with the study,
just trying to open and close my hand was extremely challenging. I never had to think about moving my hand,
as it was just something that naturally happened. So it was something that took a lot of mental
strength. OK, you ready? Yeah. But today, with practice, I’m able
to pick up an object and manipulate that around in space; I’m able to move individual fingers; I can do some complex grasps. These are looking good today. Yeah! You know, we’ve done everything from
picking up a bottle and pouring it, to playing Guitar Hero. Just being able to control more of your body
that I had thought I had lost forever is something that’s really exciting and really promising. All right, so I think we’re going to need to move some of these things out of the way. As Ian gets better at using his hand,
the researchers give him new challenges. This is his first time trying this homemade
Battleship game, and the results are a mixed bag. – Barely had it…
– That looked better, I think. Yeah, I barely had a hold of it and it
just slipped in. That’s what happens when you try
a new thing though. I think you were getting bored with everything
working easily. Nice to mix things up a little bit. It’s probably going to be a while
before a system like NeuroLife restores anything like full functionality. But it’s a first step towards a future where
a broken connection between mind and body doesn’t have to be permanent. For now, Battelle plans to keep refining the
system with Ian and other patients, in the hope of turning NeuroLife into a commercial
product within a few years. The ultimate goal of this project
is someone can actually take it home with them, and use it for their activities of daily living. We are working very hard on the hardware side
to make it portable and wearable, so that Ian can in the morning wake up, put the sleeve
on, and he should be good to go. If I can help move science so that, in
the future, someone with an injury like mine, they’ll be back going on with their lives
in a short time, that’s something that, y’know, I’ll work as hard as I can for.

100 thoughts on “This Brain Implant Could Change Lives

  1. Honestly i think once humans learn to fully controll our brain we might be able to stop being paralyzed,what if you trick your brain to open up your dead spinald cord,just like you tell yourself to keep going in workouts

  2. I hope Apple doesnt develop this technology, you would look like a cyberpunk dreadlock rasta with all the dongles attached.

  3. Well…at least he can still wear a top hat and a suit to hide it more and make him looked like a stereotype getleman 🙂

  4. this science can be beneficial to humanity, however if the military gets hold of it , it may be used for future cyborg soldiers.

  5. ok but did you all realize that apple will create the iLife thats just this but more expensive and with ios features

  6. 5th grade me is a genius. I literally thought about this chip in the head deal all be it not for the same purpose though.

  7. Are they doing a kind of technology that allows paralyzed people to send brain-to-body orders using wifi instead of the spine? this is very cyberpunk 2077

  8. You know when you really wanna punch someone and think about? Yea well with this if your think about punching someone, YOUR DOING IT

  9. This was in 2018 and they couldn't use a usb c or even a micro? They had to find the biggest connector known to man? It looks like a cable they would have used in the 80s.

  10. Thats great but the sad thing is that does he feel like hes arms are there orrr since im getting that feeling now while watching the vid

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