Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Paralyzed man moves with mind power (and scientists)

Bill Kochevar, who had not moved his right arm or hand for eight years, grabbed a mug of water and drank some through a straw.

How?

He had a brain-computer setup--with recording electrodes under his skull and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system activating his muscles--with direction from his brain.

This guy is the focal point of research led by Case Western Reserve. The work was published in Lancet this week.

This is a major step toward independence for the spinal cord injury community, according to a top researchers at Case.

Basically, they take the brain signals Kochevar, who was injured in a bike accident, emits when he attempts to, say, scratch his nose, and use them to control his arm or hand.

This research is part of a larger effort called BrainGate 2--a clinical trial being held by academic and VA institutions.

The 96-channel electrode array implanted in Kochevar's skull is about the size of a baby aspiring. He practiced emitting these signals on a virtual reality arm on a computer.

 He could do it within minutes.

Then the 36 electrical stimulation electrodes were placed in his arm.

After a while, he could just think "out" and the arm would reach out.

Kocehvar may get more surgery to make this even more precise.

Cool, huh?

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