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Brain implant helps paralyzed patients perform tasks with mind control

A better quality of life is now on the horizon for paralyzed patients after a neurotech firm developed a brain chip that helps them perform tasks using mind control.

Called Stentrode, the implant was designed by Synchron to get signals from the brain like a bluetooth device.

The stent passes through the blood vessels and is implanted on the brain without the need to open the skull or conduct a brain surgery on the patient.

"Brain computer interfaces (BCI) are technology that record from a particular area of the brain called the motor cortex," said Dr. Thomas Oxley, the CEO and founder of Synchron.

"The promise and the hope of this technology is to regain independence for people who have lost their physical independence," he added.

Philip O'Keefe, a Stentrode recipient, suffers from a motor neurone disease (MND) and participated in the clinical trials for the device.

"The first of trials we did was tap your left ankle 10 times, tap your right ankle 10 times, your right wrists, your left wrists. They took the readings from those commands to write an algorithm," O'Keefe said.

"I think about tapping my left ankle and the algorithm then identifies that brain pattern and creates a command on the screen," he added.

So far, the BCI can be used for internet tasks like email, Google search, and online shopping. A tweet was also successfully posted using the device.

A total of four patients have received the Stentrode in Australia in September 2021 and a more widespread trial is being conducted in the United States.

Graham Felstead, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is the first patient to receive the Stentrode in the human trials.

The implant can help not only those who suffer from paralysis, but also those who have epilepsy, depression, and other illness or conditions in the nervous system.

"The best this goes is that someone who's had a severe injury, who has had the best part of their life ripped away from them in terms of independence, gets control back in a way that let's them be their best person," Oxley said.

—MGP, GMA News