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Brain implant partially restores feeling and movement in quadriplegic man's hands
Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Northwell Health / Medical Research, Northwell Health

Brain implant partially restores feeling and movement in quadriplegic man's hands

The surgery is being hailed as groundbreaking

A groundbreaking brain implant has partially restored feeling and movement in a quadriplegic man's hands.

In a monumental first-of-its-kind clinical trial, experts at the Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York have successfully completed a double neural bypass on 45-year-old Keith Thomas who is paralyzed from the chest down after a diving accident in 2020.

The surgeons implanted microchips into Thomas' brain and have developed artificial intelligence algorithms to reconnect his brain to his body and spinal cord.

Keith Thomas became paralyzed from the chest down after a diving accident in 2020.
YouTube/Northwell Health

As a result of the open-brain surgery, which took place earlier this year (9 March) at North Shore University Hospital and lasted for a staggering 15 hours, an 'electronic bridge' has been formed between Thomas' paralyzed body and his brain.

Now four months after the surgery, scientists have observed how the bridge has now allowed for a restoration of movement and sensations in Thomas' hand.

"We are literally pulsing very intense electrical patterns, but very briefly, that activates those circuits, those damaged circuits that are in his spinal cord and then we believe it's starting to strengthen those connections," said engineer Chad Bouton, who leads the Neural Bypass Lab in New York.

"There's a saying that neurons that fire together, wire together."

The double neural bypass surgery has now restored feeling in Thomas' hand.
YouTube/Northwell Health

Neat little phrase that.

He went on to explain that 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'.

Talking a little more about the ins and outs of the science behind the miraculous surgery, he added: "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.

"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."

Thomas has since opened up about what his life now looks like after the surgery and how 'overwhelming' the whole experience has been.

"There was a time that I didn’t know if I was even going to live, or if I wanted to, frankly. And now, I can feel the touch of someone holding my hand. It’s overwhelming," he revealed.

"The only thing I want to do is to help others. That’s always been the thing I’m best at. If this can help someone even more than it’s helped me somewhere down the line, it’s all worth it."

Topics: Health, Science, Technology, US News, New York, Good News, Artificial Intelligence