Paralyzed woman controls robotic arm by thought
Robotics controlled by thought could pave the way to a new era of freedom for those with an injury that means the loss of limbs or those who suffer from paralysis. A stunning achievement has been reported by Brown University, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts General Hospital in the May 17 issue of the scientific journal Nature, in which a paralyzed woman was able to drink via her own control power.
A microchip implanted in the brain of the 58-year old patient decoded brain signals and translated them into movement commands of a robotic arm. Using thought, she was able to direct the arm to a bottle, grab the bottle, and bring it close enough to her mouth so she could reach the straw. The small 4mm by 4mm chip was implanted in the cerebral cortex, a layer of neurons on the exterior of the brain that delivers motor commands, back in 2007, while trials of the project called “BrainGate” began in 2005. Since then, the scientists were able to develop software that converts neural signals into signals capable of moving the robotic arm provided by the German space agency DLR. In 2010 they had first evidence that the project may result in patients being able to control the arm via signals in their brain.
What makes the current example so special is the fact that the patient was paralyzed 15 years ago from head to toe because of a brain stem stroke. She has not been able to move her limbs and has not been able to talk since then. The researchers said that their project has shown that even people who have been paralyzed for years have neural signals that are powerful enough to control robotics which could replace limbs at some point in the future. They now plan on to progress their research and help people with disabilities carry out “daily activities” using their technology.
SOURCE via DLR