Paralyzed Man Moves Arm With His Thoughts

Posted: Mar 29 2017, 8:16am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Paralyzed Man Moves Arm With His Thoughts
Bill Kochevar eating with help from temporarily implanted technologies. Image Credit: Case Western Reserve University
  • Paralyzed Man is Able to Show Hand Movement via Neuroprosthetic Device

A paralyzed man was able to show movement for the first time in years via a neuroprosthetic device. He used the power of thought to control the device.

Bill Kochevar is a quadriplegic man. That means he is for all purposes paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Yet recently he picked up a mug of water and brought it closer to his body and was finally able to sip the liquid through a straw.

Such a miracle was possible thanks to a neuroprosthetic device. Although Bill’s movements were unwieldy and a bit stilted, just to be able to move a limb which had remained in a resting position for years was a cause for celebration.

It had been almost a decade since Bill had moved his right arm or hand for that matter. To be able to accomplish the impossible was a source of great pride for this man. It was all thanks to the magic of technology.

He was fitted with the neuroprosthetic in such a manner that he had to just think of doing something with his limb and it was possible within a few seconds.

Bill had gotten paralyzed beneath his shoulders due to a bicycling accident many years ago. He is today the first person on the face of the planet to have movement restored via an implanted technological device.

There is a brain-computer interface with electrodes beneath his cranium. Furthermore, there is a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system which allows his arms and hands to function.

In short, his brain has been reconnected to his paralyzed muscles. Via a handle, Bill was even able to scratch his nose. He also scooped up dollops of mashed potatoes with the help of a fork and ate the tasty meal with gusto.

Just to be able to move after eight years of immobile status is nothing short of an extremely liberating experience. Bill has repeatedly said that it feels absolutely great.

This man is the focus of much research. The community of people with spinal cord injuries will be forming a line in order to be fitted with such neuroprosthetics so as to be able to engage in everyday activities once again.

It is a bold step towards independence from disability. People with quadriplegia tend to want to scratch itches and feed themselves and be able to do simple everyday things all by themselves.

To be dependent upon others is a curse they would love to be rid of. This neuroprosthetic device uses signals from the brain to control its self-generated movements.

For people like Bill, who is unlike the rest of us who take such things for granted, this device comes as a godsend. The capabilities it enables in this man are such that he wouldn’t have thought of them in his wildest dreams.

This groundbreaking device is described in paper that got published in the journal Lancet.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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