The Transformation of Thought into Movement Helps a Paralyzed Man Use his Limbs Again

Ian Burkhart had almost given up hope when in 2010 he dived into a wave in shallow water and lost the use of his hands with only some movement in the arm. But two years ago, when scientists in Ohio helped him control his hands right wrist and hand with his thoughts, Burkhart could hope for a better future once again.

Burkhart was equipped with a system which helped him use his hands and control their movement through his thoughts. It took months of practice for Burkhart to achieve simple tasks like pouring water from a bottle and grasping small objects to swiping a credit card through the card reader. He now has the ability to control individual fingers too.

This has been made possible with the help of technology which intercepts as well as decodes the electrical signals from the brain prior to reaching Burkhart’s damaged spine. So the signals are being routed around the injury in the spinal cord are reintroduced into the muscles.

The complete system is formed of electrodes which are implanted in the brain along with a computer interference which is attached to Burkhart’s skull along with electrical stimulators that enwrap his forearm.

With regular learning, Burkhart has been able to show improvements, and where at first he dropped the things he grasped, he is now able to hold on to them more steadily. His achievements can turn into a ray of hope for many individuals who have suffered the same fate. While there is a lot of research being conducted in this field, Burkhart’s success with technology is creating waves in the media.

With technology being able to provide us with such breakthroughs to assist certain sections of the society I can only amaze at the continuous success that we have had with science and the medical world.

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