Battelle NeuroLife™ patient Ian Burkhart made international headlines in June 2014 when he became the first paralyzed patient to use Battelle’s innovative neural bypass technology to pick up and hold a spoon using his own thoughts. Two years later, he’s in the headlines again. A recent publication in Nature details Ian’s progress and study results.
The new study, “Restoring Cortical Control of Functional Movement in a Human with Quadriplegia,” details his current level of function, which consists of picking up objects, stirring liquids and even playing a video game.
Ian’s story has gained national attention with the release of the study results. He was featured on CBS This Morning and shared his story at the South by Southwest (SxSW) Conference in Austin, Texas in March.
Battelle NeuroLife is a pioneering technology that allows paralyzed patients to control their hands, fingers and wrists using their thoughts. A chip implanted in the brain listens to and transmits signals from the motor cortex. These signals are interpreted using powerful analytics software, which then sends the signals to a special sleeve that stimulates nerves in the forearm and wrist to trigger the specific motions the patient wants to make. Called “neural bypass technology,” it offers new hope to patients whose spinal cords have been damaged by injury or illness.
The Battelle analytics team is continuing to work on refining the algorithms and decoding methods for NeuroLife. Analyzing the data from the last two years will provide a better understanding of how Ian learned and adapted to the system over time. This will allow researchers to update the algorithms to make them more useful for future study subjects. They are also continuing development work on the sleeve and other aspects the hardware.