Have you wondered about a futuristic world with robots and flying cars? Maybe the world is getting closer to that phase. A study by Scientific American states that the human life expectancy may increase to 150 years if they avoid bad habits like drinking and smoking and incorporate a few healthy habits like exercising and eating right.
The medical field has advanced tremendously in these past few years. New devices are being manufactured and innovative machinery leading to better healthcare facilities. This is the story of a paralyzed man being able to talk again.
This 36-year-old German man was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) had lost his speaking ability in 2015. He was conscious but had lost control over his muscles completely. After obtaining microchip implants in his brain, he is now able to speak with his family.
He used the traditional method of talking using eye movements. Letters used to be laid out in front of him and he would spell out words using his eyes. It was exhausting and would prefer yes and no questions.
The doctors implanted 2 microchips about 1.5 mm big along the patient’s motor cortex. The motor cortex is a part of the brain responsible for muscle movement control. The doctors were worried if the patient still remembers speech control after all these years of disconnection from it.
First, the scientist tried to train the man to demonstrate some muscle movement. They hoped that the microchip would be able to take over the brain and control movement. Unfortunately, this technique did not work.
In the next trial, two research specialists Ujwal Chaudhary and Niels Birbaumer attempted another method. They used a device that records brain waves. The device then displays the result of the implanted electrodes signal on a monitor. They attached an audio device that gave a high and low rising tune depending on the electrode signals.
They showed this to the man to get him to control his brain activity. The patient learned to control the frequency in 2 days. He is now able to speak clear sentences. The Artificial Intelligence software is able to predict his sentences better the more he uses it.
He can talk to his family and they are grateful for the hospital’s dedication to helping them. Ujwal Chaudhary sometimes spends long hours with the patient. He says the man speaks a lot. Chaudhary said, “Many times, I was with him until midnight or past midnight. On almost all days his last word is ‘beer’!”
This invention is making people hopeful about being able to speak while suffering from ASL and other forms of paralysis.