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  • I had just finished my freshman year of college.

  • I was out in the ocean and I dove out and into a wave,

  • something I had done many times before.

  • I dove into a sandbar that had drifted in,

  • which fractured my spine and damaged my spinal cord,

  • and that left me as a C5 quadriplegic.

  • I kept asking the doctors, what can I look forward to in the future?

  • One of my doctors said, hey, we want to try this muscle stimulation device.

  • It really sounds like it's something out of a science fiction novel:

  • reconnecting my mind to my body.

  • Spinal trauma is one of the toughest problems in medicine.

  • There's currently no biological way of healing severe damage to the spinal cord.

  • Recently, scientists have started developing a workaround: creating an artificial link

  • between the brain and the body.

  • GAURAV SHARMA: My name is Gaurav Sharma, I'm the lead investigator on the NeuroLife program

  • at Battelle.

  • So NeuroLife is an electronic neural bypass technology that can link the brain directly

  • to the limb it controls.

  • We are developing this technology for people with paralysis due to spinal cord injury,

  • so they can regain control of their own hand.

  • Ian Burkhart is our first patient in this study.

  • Being injured at the C5 level means that I have pretty good strength through my biceps,

  • but I don't really have any movement below my elbows at all.

  • I rely on other people to help me every single day.

  • They help me get dressed, get transferred into my wheelchair, um, brush my hair;

  • and then at the end of the day I also need help doing everything in reverse

  • to get ready for bed.

  • Independence is my number one goal, and regaining any use of my hands will really improve my

  • independence, so it was something I was all for.

  • You good?

  • Yeah I'm set.

  • So this technology has 3 main components.

  • The first component is a tiny chip that is surgically implanted in Ian's brain, and

  • that records Ian's brain activity as he's thinking about moving his hand.

  • You want a little bit more slack?

  • No that's fine.

  • It's good? OK cool.

  • GAURAV: The second component is a computer algorithm that decodes Ian's brain activity

  • and interprets the movement he is thinking about.

  • And the last component is a wearable sleeve which has up to 160 electrodes, which activates

  • the individual muscles to evoke the attempted movement.

  • You said hand open first?

  • Hand open first, yeah.

  • When I first started with the study, just trying to open and close my hand was

  • extremely challenging.

  • I never had to think about moving my hand, as it was just something that naturally happened.

  • So it was something that took a lot of mental strength.

  • OK, you ready?

  • Yeah.

  • But today, with practice, I'm able to pick up an object

  • and manipulate that around in space; I'm able to move individual fingers; I can do some complex grasps.

  • These are looking good today.

  • Yeah!

  • You know, we've done everything from picking up a bottle and pouring it,

  • to playing Guitar Hero.

  • Just being able to control more of your body that I had thought I had lost forever is something

  • that's really exciting and really promising.

  • All right, so I think we're going to need to move some of these things out of the way.

  • As Ian gets better at using his hand, the researchers give him new challenges.

  • This is his first time trying this homemade Battleship game,

  • and the results are a mixed bag.

  • - Barely had it... - That looked better, I think.

  • Yeah, I barely had a hold of it and it just slipped in.

  • That's what happens when you try a new thing though.

  • I think you were getting bored with everything working easily.

  • Nice to mix things up a little bit.

  • It's probably going to be a while before a system like NeuroLife

  • restores anything like full functionality.

  • But it's a first step towards a future where a broken connection between mind and body

  • doesn't have to be permanent.

  • For now, Battelle plans to keep refining the system with Ian and other patients, in the

  • hope of turning NeuroLife into a commercial product within a few years.

  • The ultimate goal of this project is someone can actually take it home with them,

  • and use it for their activities of daily living.

  • We are working very hard on the hardware side to make it portable and wearable, so that

  • Ian can in the morning wake up, put the sleeve on, and he should be good to go.

  • If I can help move science so that, in the future, someone with an injury like mine,

  • they'll be back going on with their lives in a short time, that's something that,

  • y'know, I'll work as hard as I can for.

I had just finished my freshman year of college.

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B1 中級

この脳インプラントは人生を変える可能性がある (This Brain Implant Could Change Lives)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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