St. Louis, Missouri – After three strokes that left the right side of his body paralyzed, Rick Arnold told his wife Kim that he had just one wish.
“All I really wanted to do was to be able to hold her hand. In the very beginning, it was to hold her hand,” said Arnold, a paramedic firefighter from Missouri who suffered the first of three paralyzing strokes in 2009.
These days Arnold can hold his wife’s hand again thanks in part to a new device that could potentially change the rules on how well stroke victims recover. Arnold is using brain-machine interface technology developed by Eric Leuthardt, a neurosurgeon at Washington University in St. Louis.
After years of research, Leuthardt discovered that the rule that one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body isn’t set in stone and that a thought or intention to move could be derived from other parts of the brain.
“In a stroke patient they have had an injury to one side of their brain that causes their hand to be paralyzed. So we are taking a signal from the uninjured side of the brain and decoding that intention to move,” said Leuthardt.