Bill Kochevar, a 53-year-old paralyzed man from the shoulders down, was able to move his arms enough to eat and drink. How? Thanks to a new “neuro-prosthetic” device.
It was the first time a device has restored the capacity to both reach with the arm and grasp with the hand in a person with a chronic spinal cord injury. “Although similar systems have been used before, none of them have been as easy to adopt for day-to-day use and they have not been able to restore both reaching and grasping actions,” said A. Bolu Ajiboye, one of the study’s lead authors.
The brain implant was comprised of two tiny electrodes, each about the size of a low-dose aspirin pill, sitting just beneath the skull. The team also planted about 36 electrodes in the man’s arm, which stimulated various muscles. The two pieces were connected by a computer that translated the brain signals into commands for the electrodes in the arm.