From exploring the use of neuromodulation as a treatment for the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, to helping a paralyzed man move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts, the research we are conducting is changing lives.

Hacking the Brain to Treat Paralysis

For the first time in medical history, a paralyzed man can move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to an innovative partnership between The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Neurological Institute and Battelle. The results of this ground breaking partnership are part of a detailed study just published online in the journal Nature.

Ian Burkhart, a quadriplegic man from Dublin, Ohio, first demonstrated the neural bypass technology in June 2014, when he was able to open and close his hand simply by thinking about it. Now, he can perform more sophisticated movements with his hand and fingers such as picking up a spoon or picking up and holding a phone to his ear — things he couldn’t do before and which can significantly improve his quality of life. 

Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.


Ian's Story

“Participating in this research has changed me in the sense that I have a lot more hope for the future now,” learn more about Ian and why he is participating in this clinical trial. 


The Team

In 2014, Ian Burkhart became the first patient in the world to use neural bypass. The team included, from left, Ali Rezai, MD; Chad Bouton, former researcher at Battelle; Nick Annetta, an electrical engineer at Battelle; Milind Deogankar, MBBS; and Jerry Mysiw, MD. 


The Technology

Neural bypass technology uses a specialized sleeve on the forearm to communicate with the chip in Ian's brain. The chip processes a patient’s thoughts, then bypasses the spinal cord, sending signals directly to the sleeve to produce movement. Within a tenth of a second, his thoughts are translated into action.


Featured at SXSW Interactive 2016

Our panel, including (L to R) Nick Annetta, research scientist at Battelle; Ohio State's Marcia Bockbrader, MD, PhD, and Ali Rezai, MD; and Ian Burkhart, discussed how partnership and collaboration are at the heart of innovative at both The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Neurological Institute and Battelle. 

Four years ago, former Battelle researcher Chad Bouton and his team began collaborating with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Neurological Institute researchers and clinicians Dr. Ali Rezai and Dr. Jerry Mysiw to design the clinical trials and validate the feasibility of using the neural bypass technology in patients.

The Battelle team has been working on this technology for more than a decade. To develop the algorithms, software and stimulation sleeve, Battelle scientists first recorded neural impulses from an electrode array implanted in a paralyzed person’s brain. They used that recorded data to illustrate the device’s effect on the patient and prove the concept.

During a three-hour surgery in April 2014, Dr. Rezai implanted a computer chip smaller than a pea onto the motor cortex of Ian’s brain. The Ohio State and Battelle teams worked together to figure out the correct sequence of electrodes to stimulate to allow Ian to move his fingers and hand. Ian is the first of a potential five participants in a clinical study. Dr. Mysiw and Dr. Rezai have identified a second patient who is scheduled to start the study in the summer.

The team agrees this technology holds the promise to help patients affected by various brain and spinal cord injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury to be more independent and functional.


Life Changing Technology


We're hoping that this technology will evolve into a wireless system connecting brain signals and thoughts to the outside world to improve the function and quality of life for those with disabilities.  One of our major goals is to make this readily available to be used by patients at home.

-Ali Rezai, MD

Featured at South by Southwest Interactive 2016

The team was featured at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, TX, in March. SXSW Interactive brings together presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology today.

Our panel, including Ali Rezai, MD; Marcia Bockbrader, MD, PhD; Nick Annetta and Ian Burkhart, discussed how partnership and collaboration are at the heart of innovative at both The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Neurological Institute and Battelle.

The panel was selected from thousands of entries for inclusion in the Health and MedTech portion of the festival.  And, it beat out more than 70 other  MedTech panels  be included in the  four recommended panels by SXSW organizers.

Turning innovation research into real world solutions

Ohio State is pioneering therapies and technology on every neurological front. We are a national leader in research and clinical applications of neuromodulation. We have one of the largest neuromuscular clinical and research programs in the country. And our neuro-oncology program has the largest brain tumor patient volumes in the region and leads the way in minimally invasive skull-base surgeries. In the last year, our neuroscience program treated more than 80,000 patients and performed more than 4,000 surgical procedures.

Watch how more than 180 physicians and researchers are partnering to discover the next new test or treatment for disorders of the brain and spine.

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