Paralyzed 40-year-old man walks again after doctors gave him brain and spine implants

Originally published at: Paralyzed 40-year-old man walks again after doctors gave him brain and spine implants | Boing Boing


Well, that is just astonishing.


This is incredible, but I’d really like to see some video of him doing these activities. Sorry, I’m the “trust but verify” type of person.


These are the days of miracle and wonder.

I don’t think I can extract the video from the article.


Finally, something that will actually improve people’s lives with AI technology!


Where the combination of AI fatalists and this end up:


There’s tons of really great AI applications. My favorite’s the laser-weeder. Reducing the use of pesticides by just burning things.

The real problem is that the business bros have FOMO after NFTs and are taking over the problem definition process in worrying ways.


The story didn’t give me much idea of how it works, so for anyone interested:

They implanted ecog electrodes (32 on each side) over primary motor cortex. They don’t record the activity of any particular neurons but instead get a general readout of the activity of the area that would initiate leg movements. This signal is translated into electrical stimuli that go to the nerve roots in his lower back where leg motor neurons leave the spine. That way when he tries to walk, the leg muscles will be stimulated with apropriate coordinated activity. He will never walk fast or dextrously (150 ms decoding time and low res recording and stimulation), but amazing that he can walk at all.

This will make his leg muscles and motor neurons healthier from activity which is good, but chronic implants like this are infection risks (he’s already had to have a brain implant replaced due to infection) and build up scar tissue over time so no one knows how long something like this can be used. I’d not want to ever have these sort of implants, but I wish them the best


Holy shit that is impressive though. Thanks for the details.


The video I saw mentioned that he can move his legs even when the device is turned off, which surprised the team working on this. Maybe it can be removed after a certain point in the retraining process. :thinking:


If a temporary implant could help return normal functioning would be ideal. That point was unclear in the article, though

The abstract says:

The participant regained the ability to walk with crutches overground even when the BSI was switched off.

But the Results section says:

When the BSI was turned off, the participant instantly lost the ability to perform any step, despite detected attempts to walk from the modulation of cortical activity.

If I understand correctly, the improvement is from regained function in muscles and local spinal circuits. The decision to walk is made in the brain, but most of the coordination and sensory feedback controlling walking is done in the spine (below where he was injured).

This supplemental video is pretty cool and makes it seem like he can walk ok now with a roller


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