Ian Burkhart, a miraculous

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Source : Slate.com

It’s a brand new creation from a surgery point of view. After years of paralysis, Ian Burkhart controls once again his hand with new technology that reads signals from his brain and delivers them to his arms. In the past, we could implant sensors in a patient’s shoulder muscles that he could still control, but we were powerless in these kinds of situations.

A terrible accident, that broke the 19 year-old’s neck, made him disabled. Ian Burkhart indeed couldn’t use his body below his shoulders. His medical condition however wasn’t linked to his brain, which made it possible for  the greatest surgeons to improve his state. His brain in fact still told his hands (for example) how to move, but the messages couldn’t get through his severed spinal cord.

Now, thanks to recent advances in electrical stimulation technology, Burkhart can once again grasp anything he wants, and even play Guitar Hero, that is his favorite game. To do so, he uses a microelectrode array that links his brain’s signals and sends them through wires to a gel sleeve that electronically stimulates his muscles.

But the system isn’t ready for home-use yet. In order to use his hands, Burkhart must be in the laboratory, where he is hooked up to a tabletop full of massive equipment, such as the computer that runs the algorithm.

It is a huge improvement for science though, giving hope to many other disabled.

 

Shady MENARD, IEJ 1bis

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