AI-brain implant helped patient gain feeling in his hand again

The groundbreaking procedure involved a 15-hour operation

AI-enabled microchips are helping one man regain movement in his hands.

Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research developed the technology.

A team implemented the microchips into Keith Thomas’ brain four months ago during a 15-hour procedure. The operation took months of preparation as the team behind the technology had to map the brain through MRIs to locate the parts responsible for arm movements.

Thomas, a New York resident, injured the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his spine in a diving accident in July 2020. He lost feeling and movement from his chest down. Thomas was awake for parts of the operation.

Along with the five chips placed inside Thomas’ brain, neurosurgeons added two external ports on top of his head. These ports connected to an AI program that turned his brain activity into physical actions called “thought-driven therapy.”

The clinical trial is a first of its kind.

“This is the first time the brain, body and spinal cord have been linked together electronically in a paralyzed human to restore lasting movement and sensation,” said Chad Bouton, the principal investigator for the trial.

“When the study participant thinks about moving his arm or hand, we ‘supercharge’ his spinal cord and stimulate his brain and muscles to help rebuild connections, provide sensory feedback, and promote recovery.”

Thomas was able to hold his sister’s hand after four months of therapy and has shown natural recovery when the system is shut off.

“This type of thought-driven therapy is a game-changer. Our goal is to use this technology one day to give people living with paralysis the ability to live fuller, more independent lives,” Bouton said.

Image credit: Screenshot/Northwell Health/YouTube

Source: Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research Via: Popular Science