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Brain implant restores control of paralyzed muscles

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The quadriplegia that comes as a result of a serious spinal cord injury cuts off the lines of communication between a person's brain and their limbs. The condition is often irreparable, and those who suffer it do so for the rest of their lives, but surgeons at Ohio State University and researchers at Battelle might have just struck back at the condition. Using a technology called Neurobridge, the pair have been able to offer Ian Burkhart, a 23-year-old who was paralyzed after a diving accident, the ability to move his hand with his own thoughts for the first time in four years.

Neurobridge works thanks to a chip that's been implanted into the patient's motor center, which relays those signals, via a muscle stimulation sleeve, directly to the subject's muscles. That way, the technology bypasses the damaged nerves, essentially cutting out the middle man and restoring direct muscular control to the brain. The transmissions take less than a tenth of a second to be processed and sent, so while it won't be as fast as the biological process, could still help people live relatively normal lives. Naturally, this first test isn't going to mean an instant cure for people with spinal cord injuries, but the first moment of Burkhart twitching his fingers after four years, available in the video below, is a huge breakthrough.

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