DOCKLANDS, Australia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Brisbane Lions today honored Philip O’Keefe, a longtime Melbourne-based Lions fan and the first person ever in the world to tweet using an implantable brain computer interface (BCI). The club has simultaneously honored Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, CEO of Synchron, who conceptualised the technology.
Mr. O’Keefe, who is diagnosed with advanced motor neurone disease (MND) and has paralysis, was able to share his ‘favourite moment’ using the implant late last year when he used his thoughts to message Synchron co-founder Nick Opie stating, “Essendon can’t beat the Lions.”
Dr. Oxley, a Lions fan now living in New York, and his Synchron colleagues are working to commercialise Synchron’s technology and bring the benefits to more patients like Philip who have paralysis.
“The AFL and the Australian community have all been inspired by, and witnessed the remarkable determination shown by, Neale Daniher and all motor neurone disease patients and show their commitment to this cause through the annual Big Freeze Fight MND,” commented Brisbane Lions Senior Coach Chris Fagan, a close friend of Daniher.
“Phil is an inspiration to our club, and we were incredibly excited to learn about his brave efforts in his fight against the impact of MND, as well as Tom’s efforts to make life easier for patients with MND,” Fagan said. “It means a lot to us to have them as fans.”
Former Brisbane Lions triple premiership star, Chris Johnson, surprised Mr. O’Keefe with a Brisbane Lions team-signed jumper during a tour of the club’s museum at Marvel Stadium in Docklands, Australia. The MND Victoria organization participated in the event and shared its gratitude to both honorees as well as the entire Brisbane Lions football club.
“We cannot thank the Lions enough for the wonderful surprise and thrill given to Phil today who is just so passionate about the Lions.” said Triss O’Keefe partner of Mr. O’Keefe.
Mr. O’Keefe, who watches all the Lions games, will never forget his team’s triple premiership wins of 2001, 2002 and 2003. MND, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), causes progressive paralysis and has made it impossible for him to engage in work-related or other independent activities.
Through the Synchron’s technology, Mr. O’Keefe has been able to email, text, bank and shop online using his thoughts since 2020. He is one of the first people ever to receive and test the only endovascular BCI, Synchron’s StentrodeTM, which is currently in clinical trials in Australia and the US.
“It’s incredible that the Lions have given Phil and his family this thrill. The AFL is truly amazing in the way it brings communities together,” said Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, CEO, Synchron, who never misses a match even since his move to New York City a few years ago. “Phil is blazing the path for patients with paralysis, and his extraordinary contributions will certainly help future MND patients as the search for a cure continues.”
Both Mr. O’Keefe and Dr. Oxley are hoping the Brisbane Lions win the 2022 AFL Premiership and Mr. O’Keefe is determined to tweet about “that one day in September.”
About the StentrodeTM
Synchron’s flagship technology, the Stentrode is an endovascular brain implant designed to enable patients to wirelessly control digital devices through thought and improve functional independence. Synchron’s foundational technology, a motor neuroprosthesis (MNP), is implanted via the jugular vein using neurointerventional techniques commonly used to treat stroke, and does not require drilling into the skull or open brain surgery. The system is designed for patients suffering from paralysis as a result of a broad range of conditions, and aims to be user friendly and dependable for patients to use autonomously.
About Synchron, Inc.
Synchron, a brain interface platform company, is a leader in the field of implantable neural interface technology. The company is already in the clinical stage with a commercially-viable neuroprosthesis for the treatment of paralysis and is developing the first endovascular implantable neuromodulation therapy. Future applications may include the potential to diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and hypertension, as well as non-medical solutions. Headquartered in New York City, Synchron has offices in Silicon Valley, California and R&D facilities in Melbourne, Australia.
About the Brisbane Lions
The Brisbane Lions were formed on 4 July, 1996, when the AFL approved a merger between the Brisbane Bears and the Fitzroy Lions. The club was officially launched on 1 November, 1996 and joined the national competition in 1997. It was the first union of two clubs in VFL/AFL history – the perfect combination of an emerging force, full of youthful enthusiasm and energy, with a proud foundation club, overloaded with history and tradition.