Electronic Chip Implant to Help Paralyzed - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/18/04

Electronic Chip Implant to Help Paralyzed

Imagine doing something just by thinking about it! That's exactly what researchers hope an electronic chip, implanted in the brain, will allow a paralyzed person to do.

The company is called Cyberkinetics and it's building miniature electronic chips using wires smaller than a human hair. Once implanted just under the skull, they might allow paralyzed people to command computers by simply thinking about it.

At least, it's worked so far in monkeys. With the chip, they can play video games using brain power instead of a joystick. Already, the FDA has given Cyberkinetics approval to implant these electrodes into five paralyzed human volunteers.

"We're going to have to get them to imagine or to visualize a movement as opposed to making a movement to help us build that first filter," says Tim Surgenor, CEO, Cyberkinetics, Inc.

The chips were actually developed by University of Utah bioengineers for the artificial eye project. They found that electrodes could stimulate the brain in blind volunteers by decoding signals from computerized eyeglass cameras.

So now, Utah researchers say they're encouraged that someday paralyzed patients may be able to use electrodes as well to pick up and send signals that would move computerized wheelchairs or even artificial arms and legs without any physical trigger... just thought.

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