It’s easy to take for granted the way our fingers automatically race across a keyboard, swipe a credit card, or open a bottle. But what if a spinal cord injury breaks those vital connections between our brain and our limbs? Is it game over? Maybe not.

Spinal injuries are some of the most difficult injuries to recover from. When trauma occurs that severs the connections between the brain and the rest of the body there has always been little hope of  “reattachment”. But while paralysis may have always seemed inevitable for many patients, there is an astonishing new technology making movement possible again!

Image: The first user of this device, Ian, hitched up to the sensors and using the computer

Ian using NeuroLife!
Courtesy of Battelle

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Battelle, a research institute dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems, and Ohio State University are hard at work developing NeuroLife. This system utilizes a brain implant, computer algorithms, and electrodes to bridge the connection between brain and body, and gives paralyzed patients the ability to use their limbs once again. Seems a little too good to be true, yeah? Just wait until you see it in action!

Ian Burkhart is NeuroLife’s first test subject. After a swimming accident left much of his body paralyzed, he is helping the NeuroLife team develop new, life-changing technologies, for individuals like himself.

Bloomberg takes a look at this remarkable piece of technology.

“If I can help move science so that in the future someone with an injury like mine will be back going on with their lives… that’s something I’ll work as hard as I can for.”
—Ian Burkhart

The intersections of science, robotics, machine learning, and medicine are taking us to remarkable places!

Visions of a future once deemed completely impossible are now a reality.

In the 1950s we barely had an understanding of DNA, the very thing that makes us possible! Now, less than a century later we are completely reshaping our understanding of ourselves and what is possible in medicine.

14 minutes

Helping the Blind See With Their Tongues

Have you heard of the device that uses the tongue to transmit visual information to the brain? Today, we'll take a look at the lives of Andy and Erik to see the potential in this amazing innovation!

Read More

Robotics are helping change the lives of amputees in ways we never dreamed! First generations of hearing-impaired individuals are reaching adulthood experiencing life with cochlear implants!

Take a minute to think about the speed of advancements happening at the intersection of technology and medicine. It’s truly a remarkable space for growth. Luckily, pioneers like the NeuroLife and Ian are changing the future of possibility for us all. Together, we can push the boundaries of our knowledge, our technologies, and ourselves.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Help us keep sharing these stories!

Before you go, EWC is helping us change the dialogue about our times, and you can help! If you’re interested in supporting what we do here, go check out our Patreon page where you can learn how to join our community over there!

Support us on Patreon!

Notes:

  1. “This Brain Implant Could Change Lives.” YouTube, Bloomberg, 19 June 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6oNoLWcDqw&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV