Paralyzed Man Moves Arm For The First Time In 8 Years Thanks To Electrical Brain Implants

New pioneering study allows quadriplegic to move arm just by thinking about it.

Meet Bill Kochevar, a 56-year-old from Cleveland who became paralyzed from his shoulders down after a cycling accident in 2006.

The quadriplegic had not moved his limbs in eight years.

That is, until now.

Thanks to a new clinical trial called Braingate, Kochevar is now able to eat and drink using his arms with the aid of electrodes implanted in his skull.

His brain activity is sent to a computer which interprets the signals and relays it to make the limb move.

This is a first of its kind which is being pioneered by biomedical engineers from Cleveland FES (functional electrical stimulation) Center in collaboration with Case Western University.

To prepare him how to use his arm again Kochevar had to first learn how to use his brain signals again by moving a virtual reality arm on a computer screen.

Once the study team was sure he was able to control his movements from his brain, they implanted the stimulating electrodes in his skull which control movement to the muscles. The study team have been working with Kochevar over the last 18 months to improve his ability to control those movements.

Now all he has to do is think about moving his arm and the computer interprets his brain signals to move his arm.

Although a temporary study, he hopes to make it permanent. Using the technology he can now eat and drink without help from others.

“I ate a pretzel, drank some water and one day they had some mash potatoes and low and behold I was able to eat them really well.”

Technology of this kind will in the long-term help people like Kochevar lead a more independent life and allow them to do activities that previously weren’t possible.

Below is a BBC News clip interviewing Kochevar and some of the people behind the study.

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