AI-enabled brain implant helps patient regain feeling and movement to a paralyzed patient

A brain implant with artificial intelligence allowed the patient to regain sensitivity and mobility. The corresponding technology was developed at the Feinstein Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, which is part of the American network of Northwell Health healthcare facilities, writes Engadget.

Keith Thomas of New York suffered an injury in 2020 that left him paralyzed down below the chest. However, thanks to the new technology, he was able to move his hand and feel touches.

To do this, the research team mapped the patient’s brain using MRI over the course of several months. This was done in order to accurately determine the areas responsible for hand movements and the sensation of touches.

Later on, surgeons performed a 15-hour procedure to implant microchips into the brain. During some of its stages, the patient was conscious and shared sensations in the hand.

Keith Thomas’ head also has external ports installed to connect to a computer. It uses artificial intelligence that interprets the patient’s thoughts and translates them into movements.

Researchers call this approach “thought-driven therapy,” because it all starts with the patient’s intentions. For example, if he thinks about moving his arm, his brain implant sends signals to a computer, which then sends signals to electrodes on his spine and arm muscles to stimulate movement. Sensors were also attached to the fingertips and palms to stimulate sensation.

If all goes well, the therapy developed by the team could help him regain sensation of touch and mobility. Although the approach still needs to be refined, the development team hopes it can change the lives of people living with paralysis.

We remind you that in May, the Neuralink company, owned by Elon Musk, announced approval for the first human clinical trial of brain implants from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).