A.I. brain implant helps paralyzed man move, feel again

A revolutionary new trial which implants a microchip into the brain has restored a paralyzed patient’s ability to feel and move once again. 

Researchers and surgeons at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research successfully implanted a microchip that was developed with artificial intelligence algorithms to "re-link" the patient’s body and spinal cord once more, according to a news release. 

Keith Thomas, 45, of Massapequa, New York, is the first human to have the microchip successfully implanted, according to Northwell. 


Keith Thomas, who lives with paralysis, poses with the research team at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research that worked with him for months to restore lasting movement and feeling in his arm and hand. The first-of-its-kind ‘d (Feinstein Institutes )

Thomas suffered a spine injury after a diving accident on July 18, 2020, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down and unable to feel. 

The 15-hour surgery to implant the microchip took place on March 9, 2023, at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. 

"This is the first time the brain, body and spinal cord have been linked together electronically in a paralyzed human to restore lasting movement and sensation," Chad Bouton, developer of the technology and principal investigator of the clinical trial, said in a news release. 


Keith Thomas, who lives with paralysis, had five tiny microchips implanted in his brain, forming a critical portion of a first-of-its-kind ‘double neural bypass’ which uses artificial intelligence to decode and translate his thoughts into action and (Feinstein Institutes )

"There was a time that I didn’t know if I was even going to live, or if I wanted to, frankly. And now, I can feel the touch of someone holding my hand. It’s overwhelming," said Thomas. "The only thing I want to do is to help others. That’s always been the thing I’m best at. If this can help someone even more than it’s helped me somewhere down the line, it’s all worth it." 


A man living with paralysis is once again able to feel sensations in his arm and hand with the help of a novel system that uses brain implants and artificial intelligence to turn his thoughts into electrical signals sent to his muscles and spinal cor (Feinstein Institutes )

The longer term hope of this new therapy is that the brain, body and spinal cord will relearn how to communicate and new neural pathways will be created where the injury occurred. 

"Millions of people live with paralysis and loss of feeling, with limited options available to improve their condition," said  Kevin J. Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. "Prof. Bouton and his team are committed to advancing new bioelectronic technologies and open new clinical paths to restore movement and sensation."  

This story was reported from Los Angeles.