Some brand new research has shown that any paralyzed patients are able to control a special, off-the-shelf tablet, by using special chip implants which are connected to their brains. This brain-computer interface (BCI) has allowed several different subjects to move a cursor as well as click, just by using their own thoughts to make those things happen.
This is a very important breakthrough in the scientific and the medical community. Three of these patients suffered from tetraplegia, which has made them unable to use any of their limbs. Two also had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and another one had a spinal cord injury. But thanks to this particular brain-computer interface, they were able to freely use chat, email, music, and a video-streaming application. These patients could easily navigate the internet and perform other tasks, like online shopping, without any issues, and even play a virtual piano.
The study and the research were published in the journal Plos One, and the lead author, named Dr. Paul Nuyujukian, who works as a bioengineer at Stanford, said that it was great all of the patients could easily perform the tasks that they were assigned and that the best part of the entire research process was getting the patients to freely use all of the available apps for whatever it was that they liked, whether that was chatting with friends, or watching videos or even doing some online shopping. Furthermore, one of the participants had told the researchers before the study had started that one of the things that she really wanted to be able to do again was to play the piano, so having her play on a digital keyboard had been absolutely heartwarming.
The entire study and the research was done by the BrainGate collaboration, which is an organization that has been working to make this brain-computer interface a reality for many years now. The chip that they have been using for this project was the size of a small pill and was placed in the brain’s motor cortex of each patient. It then had sensors to register the neural activity which is linked to the intended movements, and then the information was decoded and sent to external devices. With this approach, many paralyzed people will be able to easily communicate with their families and friends and help their caregivers make better decisions about the ongoing health issues with the patients.