September 28, 2023

AI brain implants allow paralyzed man to regain use of arms, hands, fingers

Editor's Note

In a first of its kind surgical procedure, doctors have installed artificial intelligence (AI) implants in the brain of a 46-year-old man who was paralyzed from a fall on the ice, CNN September 27 reports. The AI implant formed a "digital bridge"–an idea pioneered by the French neuroscientist Gregoire Courtine–and has since allowed the patient to regain the use of his arms, hands, and fingers.

According to the article:

  • The breakthrough technology works by using AI to read the patient's thoughts, then it transfers those intentions to a second implant in his abdomen that stimulates his muscles to move. 
  • Earlier this year, the same company–Onward–installed similar devices in a patient in the Netherlands who had lost the use of his legs in a bike accident; it has since allowed him to walk again after 10 years of paralysis. 
  • The researchers have found that the technology also encourages nerve fibers to start growing again–essentially stimulating the body to repair.
  • Scientists plan to learn more from this first trial, then expand to four or five people and eventually seek US Food and Drug Administration approval for a global trial.

As more than a quarter-million Americans suffer from some form of paralysis due to spinal cord damage, the technology offers new hope that they may be able to eventually regain additional movement and independence.


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