Keith Thomas suffered a diving accident in 2020 that left him paralyzed from the chest down due to injuries to his C4 and C5 vertebrae. However, a recent clinical trial led by bioengineer Chad Bouton at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research has restored movement and sensation to Thomas’ right hand using a double neural bypass.
What is a Double Neural Bypass?
A double neural bypass is a procedure that connects the brain, spinal cord, and body to establish mobility and tactility. During the 15-hour surgery, Thomas received five AI-enabled electrode arrays in precise regions of his brain, which are responsible for motion and feeling in his right hand. The surgery also entailed the installation of external ports at the top of Thomas’ head. The researchers hook up an AI program to these ports to perform thought-driven therapy, in which the program translates Thomas’ brain activity into actions.
How Does the AI Program Work?
The AI program registers inputs from Thomas’ brain and then transforms them into signals passed through externally placed electrodes on his arm that stimulate movement. In the months since the surgery, Thomas progressed and was able to move and feel his right wrist and arm, even when the equipment is switched off. This recovery could have permanent gains as his body continues to recover.
Implications for Paralyzed Patients
This new technology, and others like it, could be game-changers for people living with spinal cord injuries. By using decoding and modulation strategies together, it is possible to restore lost function to those living with paralysis and other debilitating conditions. The double neural bypass forms an electronic bridge that allows information to flow once again between the paralyzed body and brain to restore lasting movement and sensation.
This breakthrough in bioelectronic medicine research offers hope to those living with paralysis and other debilitating conditions. The success of the clinical trial led by Bouton and his team at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is a significant step forward in the field of neural bypass technology.