Implants let quadriplegic man drink from mug and feed himself

Mar 29, 2017

By New Scientist staff and Press Association

A quadriplegic man in the US has been able to use his right arm and hand again after eight years of paralysis.

Bill Kochevar, who was paralysed below his shoulders in a cycling accident, was able to do this thanks to a neuroprosthesis. Electrodes implanted under his skull record brain activity in his motor cortex region, sending signals to electrodes in his arm that tell them when to stimulate his muscles.

The device has enabled him to raise a mug of water and drink from a straw, and scoop mashed potato from a bowl. “For somebody who’s been injured eight years and couldn’t move, being able to move just that little bit is awesome to me,” says Kochevar.

In preparation, Mr Kochevar first learned how to use his brain signals to move a virtual-reality arm on a computer screen. “He was able to do it within a few minutes,” says Bob Kirsch, from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. “The code was still in his brain.”

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