Brain Computer Chip Allows Paralyzed Man to Play Guitar Hero With His Hands
A 24-year-old quadriplegic man has mastered a video game thanks to astonishing new technology.
Ian Burkhart is now able to play a video game using his own hands, thanks to a computer chip implanted in his brain.
Burkhart was paralyzed six years ago when the then-college freshman dove into the waters of North Carolina beach and broke his neck, permanently losing all feeling below the neck, the New York Times reported.
Burkhart was moved to Atlanta for several months of rehabilitation and then moved closer to home, where he was cared for by the Ohio State University.
There, he told doctors that he was ready to participate in experimental treatments, in spite of his father’s reservations.
"It's my obligation to society," Burkhart said, according to an Ohio State University press release.
The device, which is "smaller than a pea", once again allowed him feel his hands moving.
He underwent a three-hour long brain surgery, where the team of surgeons inserted the computer chip into the motor cortex of his brain.
The device's goal is to bypass the spinal cord injury by reconnecting the brain directly to the muscles, Ohio State University reported. The chip, when connected to the device, analyzes movements in the brain, then translates the brain's activity through a muscle-simulation sleeve Burkhart wears on his paralyzed arm.
"If I think about opening my hand over and over again, they can see what's lighting up (in my brain,)" Burkhart said in an interview with Nature.
Only months after the surgery, Burkhart demonstrated the technology was a success when he opened and closed his once-paralyzed hand.
Now, he combats harder tasks, like picking up a spoon, holding a phone to his ear, pouring into a cup and can even play Guitar Hero.
"Being able to move my hand, it was a big shock, because you know it's something that I hadn't moved in about three and a half years at that point," Burkhart said to Nature. "Now, it's more of something where I expect to move.”
Though Burkhart is unable perform movements when his skull is not connected to a computer and will not likely help him gain full independence anytime soon, he said that the progress is only motivates him to keep working.
"It's really just hope for the future, that things will get better," Burkhart said, according to the Ohio State University.
"We've been able to really see that it's something that can work. I know that in the future it'll really be able to help a lot of people."