In today’s world, a paralyzed person doesn’t have a lot of freedom to do whatever they want, and that has much to do with the lack of advanced technology to get them back on their feet. However, this could end in the near future due to an experimental technology known simply as neuroprosthetic.
56-year old Bill Kochevar from Cleveland, OH, is a man who has been paralyzed for over eight years. Kochevar is a man paralyzed from the shoulders down, which means, doing anything by himself is quite difficult. Things got to a point where he couldn’t even scratch his own nose.
With this new piece of technology, he is now able to move his arms with the power of his mind, according to the research paper. The device creates a connection with the mind and his limbs, which basically replaces what was lost due to an accident in 2006.
Since taking part in this experimental technology, the patient has managed to drink coffee and eat food all by himself for the first time in eight years.
“It was amazing,” according to Kochevar in an interesting video created by Case Western Reserve University. “I thought about moving my arm, and it did. I could move it in and out, up and down.”
Abidemi Bolu Ajiboye, lead author and assistant professor at the University, said they managed to pull off this magnificent feat by taking the electrical signals that signify Kochevar’s thoughts and use them to control his arms and hands.
Now, Kochevar is the first to benefit from this spectacular technology, but Bolu Ajiboye believes others will take advantage of it in the distant future. To him, the public could have access to neuroprosthetic in the next five or 10 years, which isn’t too far away.
How did Kochevar become the first to test pilot neuroprosthetic?
Well, after crashing his bicycle in 2006 in the back of a mail truck, which left him paralyzed, he sought after ways to get his arm moving again. Luckily, he came across this research back in 2014 and decided to get involved.
Fixing this particular patient wasn’t easy since signals from his brain were not being sent to his arm. This has a lot to do with the spinal cord injury he suffered during the crash.
To get the artificial signal sent to his arm, researchers had to install something known as an electrode array, which is used to record and detect brain signals. The electrode array was placed in the motor cortex of the brain, the part designed for controlling the arm and hand.
Scientists then proceeded to hook up the array to a computer, and from there, magic.
It took Kochevar four months to master controlling his arm with his brain. He’s now at a point where he can help himself somewhat. It’s not clear if the technology will ever allow him to do whatever he wants with his arm.
For now, the technology is far from perfect as there is a delay. Whenever Kochevar uses his mind to move his arm, it doesn’t do so right away. However, this is something researchers are working to fix.