I am a paralyzed man who regained control of his hand using technology, including a chip implanted in my brain. I’m here with members of the research team developing this exciting technology— Ask Us Anything!
We are Ian Burkhart, Dr. Marcie Bockbrader M.D., Ph.D.from Ohio State and Dr. Dave Friedenberg Ph.D from Battelle. In 2010, Ian dove into a wave in the Atlantic Ocean and hit a sandbar. He suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Four years later, he volunteered to participate in a project that required the implantation of a tiny chip in his brain that allows a computer and algorithms to “listen” to some of the neurons in his motor cortex associated with hand movement. Now, with the help of a computer, algorithms and a special sleeve that stimulates his forearm muscles, Ian can think of a movement he’d like his hand to do and the Battelle NeuroLife system helps him move his paralyzed hand.
Ian has had the implant for much longer than was anticipated, and we’re still getting clear signal. He comes in for sessions twice a week where we work on different functional grips and grasps that Ian would like to regain as well as playing Battleship, a guitar video game and driving a car simulator. For now, Ian can only use the system in the lab but we are working hard to make the system portable so Ian and others can take it home and use it in their everyday lives. Dr. Bockbrader is a neurorehabilitation physiatrist and is the principal investigator for the NeuroLife implanted brain-computer interface clinical trial. Dave Friedenberg is a PhD statistician who leads development of the machine learning algorithms used to decode Ian’s brain data and is in charge of the ever-growing body of big data being produced by the NeuroLife project.
We’ve been featured on CBS, CNN, HBO’s Vice, the front page of the Washington Post and in many other journalistic outlets. One great recent example appeared on Bloomberg last year. We’ve also published lots of papers on the subject, for instance, we published this paper in Nature Medicine in the November 2018 edition about using deep learning algorithms to better address concerns of potential users like Ian. Last week, NVIDIA published a blog about our project.
Good night for now. We'll check back to see what questions we didn't have time to get to. Thanks everyone