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Paralysis Finds Cure In New Chip: Tech Offers Hope To Spinal Injuries, Quadriplegics

Update Date: Apr 20, 2016 06:30 AM EDT

Paralysis is something that anyone will not want to fall into, a state which takes away the ability to move one’s extremities. Such occurs only in extremes when a person incurs some sort of freakish spinal injury and many have seen a lot go through it.

Sports is a leading source, seeing athletes suffer from it and left immobile. Celebrities have had their share of it as well, calling to mind the likes of the late Christopher Reeve popular for portraying Superman back in the late 70s.

Reeves ended up a quadriplegic back in 1995 when he was thrown off a horse during an equestrian competition in Virginia. He passed away in 2004, spending his later life stages in a wheelchair and a portable ventilator.

In the present day, Ian Burkhart has somehow suffered the same fate only that he incurred paralysis when he dove into a beach off the Outer Banks of North Carolina which resulted in him breaking his neck.

That happened five years ago and Burkhart had been paralyzed ever since. There is no telling if he could one day make use of his hands and legs though a recent report could be a small step towards that direction.

With the help of technology, a new chip was reportedly inserted into his brain two years back and now the 24-year-old has regained control over his right hand and fingers. The chip apparently transmits his thoughts to his hand and muscles which bypass his spinal injury. The study was published on Nature and is the first positive note when it comes to limb reanimation.

“It’s crazy because I had lost sensation in my hands, and I had to watch my hand know whether I was squeezing or extending the fingers,” Mr. Burkhart via the NY Times.

While the breakthrough seems amazing, it is still not considered as a cure for paralysis. While the development is a positive sign, researchers admit that the breakthrough needs a lot of work before it can address the true issue surrounding paralysis.

Thus, any new developments on this would depend on the progress of neural engineering. A positive look into it proves that the bypass approach could someday restore abilities to limbs without having to be directly connected to the brain.

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