Paralysed man now able to play Guitar Hero thanks to computer chip in his brain

Ian Burkhart became paralysed from the shoulders down after a freak diving accident five years ago

Charlie Atkin
Thursday 14 April 2016 10:42
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Paralysed man able to play video games thanks to a computer chip in his brain

A paralysed man is now able to play video games, pick up objects and stir liquids after a computer chip was installed in his brain.

With the chip and a futuristic looking sleeve, Ian Burkhart from Ohio has been using his own brainwaves to retrain his paralysed right hand in what doctors call a ‘neural bypass’.

“We’re able to turn Ian’s thoughts into signals that bypass his injured spinal cord, and send them directly to the sleeve, causing his muscles to move,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, CEO of Ohio State's Neurological Institute.

“It really is incredible.”

Mr Burkhart made headlines across the globe back in 2014, when he became the first paralysed patient using the technology to pick up a spoon.

Now he is capable of much more, including the demanding dexterity of Guitar Hero, thanks to hundreds of sessions at Ohio State University over the last two years.

“Now it’s just something that’s so fluid, it's kind of like it was before I had my injury, where I just think about what I want to do and now I can do it,” Mr Burkhart reported, having first become paralysed from the shoulders down after a freak diving accident.

The chip was first implanted in Ian’s brain by Dr Rezai in 2014. Wires are connected from that chip to a computer that is capable of decoding his thoughts and translating them into action impulses for his sleeve.

“Several years after a spinal cord injury, his level of function has improved significantly. That has never been demonstrated before,” said Dr Rezai.

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