Wonderful new developments in biotechnologies are helping people with spinal cord injuries move simply by thinking! People who suffer traumatic spinal cord injuries go from one day being a healthy and functioning human being to being instantly and permanently paralyzed.

Ian Burkhart, for example, was left with quadriplegia nearly six years ago after a diving accident. Today, Ian, now 24, is involved in breakthrough research that allows him to think about moving his limbs and then actually move his limbs.

Scientists and researchers have developed what is called a synthetic neural bypass. In patients with spinal cord injuries, the pathways from the brain to the limbs are blocked, but by bypassing the injury and training people to think about their movements, this bypass system is now allowing Ian to do things like pick up a glass, grasp objects with fine motor movement, and even play simple guitar songs. Watch Ian, the “first paralyzed man to move again,” here.

It is exciting to see ethical biotechnological progress for the human good.

Image from nature video via YouTube

Author Profile

Jennifer Lahl, CBC President
Jennifer Lahl, CBC President
Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.