Neuralink’s first patient shares his journey, company seeks the next

The first human to receive a Neuralink brain implant chip has shared his transformative journey and how the emerging technology has changed his life. Noland Arbaugh, a 30-year-old who was paralyzed from the shoulders down after an accident eight years ago, received a Neuralink brain implant chip called “The Link” in January.

“In the long term, I think we can bridge severed nerve signals to a second Neuralink in the spine, restoring full control of the body,” X CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet.

Neuralink is currently looking for people with quadriplegia to participate in a groundbreaking clinical trial of brain-computer interface medical devices.

People with quadriplegia often find that their needs to interact seamlessly with the digital world go unmet, leading to reduced independence, isolation and financial challenges.

“Our goal is to provide a high-quality interface that will improve control of digital devices for people with quadriplegia, unlocking their personal and professional potential,” Neuralink said.

With Implant you can control your phone and computer just by thinking

“Neuralink is accepting applications for the second participant. This is our cybernetic brain implant Telepathy that allows you to control your phone and computer by simply thinking. No one better than Noland (@ModdedQuad) himself to tell you about the first one,” Musk said in another tweet.

The coin-sized device was implanted under his skull. Using more than 1,000 electrodes, the device can read neuron activity in the brain and connect to a computer or smartphone.

“I can run a computer just like anyone else can, something I couldn’t do before,” Arbaugh said in an interview with “Good Morning America.”

Arbaugh wasn’t concerned

Arbaugh insisted he was not at all concerned about signing up for the first phase of the trial because his move will help improve the lives of people who are paralyzed. “I knew if I did this it would take away a lot of headaches and heartache for the people down the street.”

However, there were performance issues as some of the device’s wires became disconnected from his brain. Arbaugh became emotional and feared he would lose the improvements the device was bringing to his life. “It was very, very difficult to give up all the great things I could do. I think I actually cried afterward.

But Neuralink later made changes that improved the device’s connection to Arbaugh’s nerves.

Arbaugh believes that with the help of such innovations, spinal cord injuries will not be completely disabling. “I don’t think it’s as far away as people might think. It will be great if someone gets a spinal cord injury, goes to the hospital, has surgery and walks out a few days later. I think it will happen.”

Neuralink claims that the brain-computer interface is fully implantable, cosmetically invisible and designed to let people control a computer or mobile device anywhere.

The N1 implant is hermetically sealed in a biocompatible housing that can withstand physiological conditions several times harsher than those in the human body.

The device is powered by a small battery that charges wirelessly from outside via a compact, inductive charger that allows easy use from anywhere.

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ABOUT THE EDITORIAL

Prabhat Ranjan Mishra An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Prabhat is a technology and defense journalist. While he enjoys writing about modern weapons and emerging technology, he has also covered global politics and business. He was previously associated with well-known media houses including International Business Times (Singapore Edition) and ANI.

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