This Device Reads Paralyzed People’s Thoughts Through Their Veins

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A brain implant inserted in the jugular allows ALS patients to type with their minds.

Graham Felstead first noticed his left arm becoming weak in 2016. Two years later, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a neurological disorder that culminates in paralysis of most voluntary muscles. Eventually, he lost the ability to use his arms and became completely reliant on his wife for the most basic of everyday tasks.

But after receiving a brain implant in August 2019, he’s gained back some of the independence. The implant, which connects wirelessly to his personal computer and other smart devices, allows Felstead, 75, to surf the web, check his email, and write Word documents using just his thoughts. Together, the system is known as a brain-computer interface.

“The device has allowed me to be productive again, including shopping, banking, and delegating tasks among the Rotary Club members with whom I volunteer,” he said in a statement released by Synchron, the Silicon Valley-based company that made his brain implant.

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