Brain chip helps quadriplegic move hand


A 24-year old quadriplegic can now grasp objects, pour drinks, even play a video game guitar thanks to a brain implant which allows thought to control movement.

Ian Burkhart from Ohio has a pea-sized electronic chip in his motor cortex.  It relays signals from his brain through 130 electrodes on his forearm to produce muscle movement in his hands and fingers.

He first demonstrated the ground-breaking "neural bypass" technology in 2014 when he was able to simply open and close his hand.

Now he can perform multiple useful tasks with more sophisticated hand and finger movements.

"We are thrilled that Ian has progressed significantly with this technology over the past year, and this really provides hope, we believe, for many patients in the future as this technology evolves and matures, to help people who have disabilities from spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury or a stroke to allow them to be more functional and more independent," said Ali Rezai, the director of Ohio State's Center for Neuromodulation at the Wexner Medical Center.

The pioneering thought-control technology is now being improved with the hope of creating a wireless system that doesn't need the cable running from the head to relay brain signals.

Burkhart, who snapped his neck after hitting a sandbar when diving into a wave six years ago, says this technology lets him function like a normal member of society.

"The biggest dream would be to get full function of my hand back, both my hands, because that would allow you to be much more independent, not to have to rely on people for simple day to day tasks that you take for granted," he says.