For First Time in 11 Years, Paralyzed Man Moves His Arm

Brain implants allow him to control his right arm through thoughts
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2017 11:36 AM CDT
Paralyzed Man Able to Feed Himself Again
Bill Kochevar can feed himself for the first time since 2006.   (Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland FES Center)

Recent advances in brain-spine interface technology have so excited the scientists working to restore the abilities of quadriplegics and others that they've actually screamed at the results. Now, the team working on a device known as BrainGate2 at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center is celebrating another milestone, reports For the first time since being paralyzed in a bike accident in 2006, Navy veteran Bill Kochevar has been able to feed himself, scratch his nose, and give himself a sip of coffee, the latter task being at the top of his wish list. "Amazing," he says. "I can move my arm again."

The experimental neural interface system is being studied in clinical trials throughout the US. In Kochevar's case, researchers implanted electrodes in his skull, which relayed signals from his brain to electrodes in his right arm. It took a lot of practice, including 45 weeks of physical rehabilitation to rebuild muscles in his arm and learning how to use his own thoughts to move a virtual-reality arm on a screen, but the successful results can be seen in this YouTube video. "The code was still in his brain," a researcher says in a Science Daily news release. They hope the veteran can some day take a more sophisticated device home. (These patients can finally talk again.)

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