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Melbourne research enables paralysed people to control a computer with their thoughts

3AW News
Article image for Melbourne research enables paralysed people to control a computer with their thoughts

World-first Melbourne research has given two men with motor neuron disease the ability to control computers with their thoughts.

The two Australian patients are the first in the world to receive a paper clip-sized implant, called a Stentrode, which allows them to regain previously lost skills.

Neurointervention Service Director at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor Peter Mitchell, said the success of the implant is “generating a lot of interest around the world”.

“Our first patient was very active in running his RSL group but he lost the ability send emails, to use internet banking. If his wife was out he couldn’t text her. All of those things he can now do,” he told Ross and Russel.

“He thinks a thought to move a certain muscle or to move a limb. That electrical signal, while it can’t move his own muscles, goes down the lead … to make the computer do what he wants it to do.”

Professor Mitchell said he’s hopeful the technology will soon be able to allow paralysed people to move bionic limbs and wheelchairs using their thoughts.

“At this stage it’s very early days in terms of what can be achieved. I think it’s going to keep going.”

Press PLAY below for more.

One of the two recipients of the brain implant, Phil O’Keefe, says it has made a huge difference to his quality of life.

“It is changing my life, in more ways than I thought it would,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Press PLAY below to hear from brain implant recipient Phil O’Keefe.

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