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The Brain Implant Helps People with Disabilities to Operate Devices Through the Mind

Millions of people around the world are unable to use digital devices due to physical limitations. But what if they could just send a text or email using only their minds?

It might sound like the plot of a science fiction film. It is like something that is impossible. But as it turns out, researchers are currently conducting clinical trials of a new technology that could make this wish come true.

The first patient to receive a Stentrode brain computer interface endovascular implant

Reporting from CBS News, Philip O'Keefe (62 years) became one of the first patients to receive a Stentrode brain computer interface endovascular implant in April 2020. Dr. Thomas Oxley, CEO of Synchron - the New York City-based endovascular BCI company, led the development of the device.

O'Keefe lives in Melbourne, Australia and has lost the ability to control his hands and body due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He had to fight harder to do the simple things that many of us take for granted, like getting dressed, washing, and feeding himself.

"The clinical study we conducted was purely for digital device control for people whose hands can no longer be used to control digital devices," said Oxley.

Inserted through the jugular vein, the device is implanted near the area of ​​the brain that controls movement using a minimally invasive endovascular procedure. Once implanted, the device detects and wirelessly sends signals to the device that translate thoughts into commands for the digital device.

"I think this is science fiction," said O'Keefe when first told there was a device that could operate a mouse with just the mind.

Oxley told CBS News they had figured out how to send sensors to the brain without open brain surgery. A major advance that will make this technology less risky.

O'Keefe demonstrated his computer skills to CBS News by writing notes. His mind was focused on the mouse clicking letter by letter.

"I can sort my email. I can surf the web. I can do most things a hand can do," says O'Keefe.

Clinical trials are ongoing, and so far, as of this writing, five people have received implants, including one in New York City.

"It gave me a reason to live on," O'Keefe said. "And these have been the happiest two years of my life."

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