Eight years ago, Bill Kochevar was paralyzed below his shoulders in a bicycle accident. But thanks to experimental tech called BrainGate2 developed by Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, the neuropathways between his arm and his brain have been reconnected.
Surgeons implanted two 96-channel electrode arrays on the surface of Kochevar’s brain, and a functional electrical stimulation system in the upper and lower muscles of his right arm. The electrons detect signals coming from the part of his brain that once controlled his hand and arm, and then an algorithm turns those signals into movements. In other words, he can simply think about moving his arm, and it moves. Kochevar can again perform simple tasks like feeding himself mashed potatoes. Though the tech is still in its early stages, the potential for expanding its reach is good now that researchers have assessed the feasibility of an “implanted brain-computer interface.”