Brain Implants Help Paralyzed Man Feed Himself

brain implant prosthetic paralused quadriplegic
Bill Kochevar, who was paralyzed below the shoulders after a cycling accident, tested the device. Case Western Reserve University

A man paralyzed from the shoulders down has been able to feed himself for the first time in eight years after electrodes were implanted and connected to muscles in his brain.

Cleveland resident Bill Kochevar, who was paralyzed in a bicycle accident, regained partial use of his right hand following research into neuroprosthetic technology carried out by researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

"It was amazing," Kochevar said in a video published by the university. "I thought about moving my arm, and it did. I could move it in and out, up and down.

"This research has enhanced my ability to be able to do things. I'm still wowed every time I do something amazing. I ate a pretzel, I drank water. One day they had some mashed potatoes and, low and behold, I was able to eat the mashed potatoes really well."

A study, published in The Lancet, describes how sensors were placed in the motor cortex area of Kochevar's brain—the area responsible for hand movement. Electrodes were then implanted in the arm muscles responsible for hand, elbow and shoulder movements.

"We have been able to take the electrical signals which represent his thoughts and use that to control stimulation of his arm and hand," said Abidemi Bolu Ajiboye, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University and lead author of the study.

Leigh, Hochberg, a scientist on the project, added: "It's been so inspiring to watch Mr Kochevar move his own arm and hand just by thinking about it. As an extraordinary participant in this research, he's teaching us how to design a new generation of neuro-technologies that we all hope will one day restore mobility and independence for people with paralysis."