The Nerve Bypass
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) June 2014 — A man in Ohio has become the first patient ever to move his paralyzed hand by using his thoughts. In a small, crowded laboratory at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 23-year old Ian Burkhart looked closely at his hand, squinted with concentration and made a fist as doctors, neuroscientists and engineers from Battelle, and Ian’s family gasped.
“I never dreamed I would ever be able to do that again,” said Burkhart, who was injured in a 2010 diving accident.
The breakthrough was made possible by a cutting-edge technology called Neurobridge developed by researchers at Battelle, working with doctors at Ohio State. “We implanted a microchip sensor in Ian’s brain that will essentially read his thoughts and send signals to a wearable high-tech sleeve placed on his forearm to control his muscle movements,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Ali Rezai of Ohio State. The special software that interprets brain signals and one-of-a-kind sleeve, developed by Chad Bouton, and his team at Battelle, helps create a bypass for Ian’s spinal cord. “Once Ian thinks about moving his hand, his thoughts are processed and sent through wires connected to the sleeve and Ian’s muscles, which allows him to once again move his hand and fingers,” Bouton said.