008 – Ian Burkhart

Ian Burkhart was born in 1991 in Columbus, Ohio. He is the oldest of four children and was actively involved in lacrosse and boy scouts throughout his youth. During the summer after his freshman year, Ian and a group of friends were on vacation in North Carolina when he suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury after diving headfirst into a sandbar. After being diagnosed as a C5 quadriplegic, Ian discovered a way to participate in a neural bridging study with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the Battelle Memorial Institute. Ian has stayed active in his community and on campus at Ohio State University, where he is currently pursuing a degree in Accounting. As an assistant coach for the varsity lacrosse team at Dublin Junior High School, he has helped lead the team to a state championship and three runner-up finishes since joining in 2011. Ian is also a Peer Support Mentor with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation volunteering with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where he helps patients with spinal cord injuries adjust to their new life.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  1. Despite all that has changed in his life, Ian’s core wish is that neural interfaces could advance faster for the benefit of others living with similar conditions.
  2. While the technical development and engineering behind neurotechnology applications are important, Ian feels that doctors and companies alike can provide the most value by spending quality, face-to-face time with patients to learn about how they can improve patient life and teach the patients about the devices.
  3. Ian’s belief in himself and the future of neurotechnology have taught him the power of a positive, forward-thinking mindset, which is something we all can learn from.

Show Notes.

  • [1:05] Ian shares the story of his life-changing accident at 19 years old.
  • [2:39] Ian’s introduction to neural implants as a C5 quadriplegic and a technological optimist.
  • [4:00] How the study to regain control of his hands was initially presented to Ian and his drive for an increase in independence and quality of life.
  • [6:03] An overview of Ian’s training process and how he trained a computer to learn how he thinks.
  • [7:38] Ian shares how he was able to overcome the difficulty of small, simple movements.
  • [10:48] A walkthrough of the progress Ian has made and what his new goals are.
  • [12:10] When will the training technology be available outside of a laboratory setting?
  • [14:05] Ian shares his view on what a patient feels is most important for providers in this space to know.
  • [15:40] The progress Ian has been able to make outside of the lab without using the training system.
  • [17:30] Ian shares what he believes to be the key to his success: positive thinking.
  • [19:16] In Fall 2017, Ian launched the Ian Burkhart Foundation to help provide financial assistance to individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Selected Links.

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