Brain Chip Gives Paralyzed Man Control of His Hand

paralyzed brain chip hand guitar hero
Ian Burkhart was able to play the computer game Guitar Hero using the neural bypass technology. Ohio State University

A paralyzed man has regained partial use of his right hand after a chip was implanted into his brain.

Ian Burkhart, 24, has been quadriplegic for the last five years after diving into shallow water. In a world first, electronic sensors have sent signals from his brain to his muscles, to allow him to grasp and pour a bottle, pick up a stick, and even play the video game Guitar Hero.

"It reinstated a lot of hope that people with my kind of injury won't just have to settle," Burkhart said in a statement. "Since then, we've been able to do a bunch of things that someone with my kind of injury should not be able to do."

Burkhart has spent the last two years taking part in a study at Ohio State University involving neural bypass technology.

Surgery was performed on Burkhart to implant a flexible chip that detects electrical activity in his brain when he thinks about moving his hand. A cable then transmits the signals to a computer, which in turn transmits electrical impulses that stimulate his muscles.

"We're showing for the first time that a quadriplegic patient is able to improve his level of motor function and hand movements," said Ali Rezai, a neurosurgeon at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and co-author of the study that details the technology.

"We're hoping that this technology will evolve into a wireless system connecting brain signals and thoughts to the outside world to improve the function and quality of life for those with disabilities. One of our major goals is to make this readily available to be used by patients at home."