One of science's biggest goals has always been to help those with disabilities improve their quality of life. Here at Not Impossible, we've closely followed advances in prosthetic limbs and health wearables, but this one is particularly incredible.
Ian Burkhart was fully paralyzed six years ago in a diving incident, but today, he can move his arms again and it's all thanks to the NeuroLife. Those with severe spinal cord injuries normally lose control of their muscles because the brain can no longer communicate with the spinal cord.
Basically, the NeuroLife consists of a brain implant and a wearable -- together they allow a paralyzed person's brain to communicate directly with their muscles, completely bypassing a damaged spinal cord. That's exactly how the NeuroLife helped Ian move his arms again. But don't take my word for it; check out the below video to watch Ian play Guitar Hero using the device.
The potential downside to this invention is the brain implantation. The process of inserting it seems invasive and it's taken Ian a few years to have the entire procedure done, which includes re-training his body to become accustomed to mobility again. Since technology is always changing, the brain implants themselves may change over time as well, potentially requiring re-implantation. It's also hard to tell how much something like this will cost -- as we know, big medical procedures in the United States don't come cheap -- and whether it will be accessible to those who can't afford to pay a premium even for life-changing health tech.
But that's all pretty far down the road. Right now, this is definitely an advance worth celebrating. Technology is empowering. It's exciting to think that in our lifetimes, we will continue to see it evolve in new ways that benefit those with disabilities.