Persons with spinal cord injuries or other disabilities can now be surgically implanted with robotic arms!
It would enable them to move their artificial limbs just by brain signaling!
One of the quadriplegic patient, who was paralyzed neck down, was implanted with a robotic arm. As a result, She could control the arm successfully with just her mind intentions.
The procedure works through the surgical implantation of electrical sensors in a portion of the patient’s mind, which signals motor neurons of the body.
These sensors read the brain electrical signals, but instead of sending it to the desired muscle, they send those impulses to a nearby computer. The computer efficiently decodes the impulses and relays it to robotic arms.
Spinal cord injury is a type of accidental disability which severs spinal cord, the main artery connecting signals to and fro from brain to limb muscles.
People with such devastating conditions remain paralyzed for the rest of their life.
The neuro-prosthetic technique used here, by-passes the cord through the computer-controlled path.
Previous techniques used inserting sensors to the motor cortex area of the brain, which controls movements of the body muscles.
But due to some technical glitches, the Caltech researchers this time used Posterior Parietal cortex area of the brain, from where a person develops intentions to move.
According to the lead researcher, Richard Anderson, ‘when a normal person tries to move his hand , he doesn’t need to know which muscles need to move and where to send signals in order to achieve the desired goal. He just intents to function and accomplishes the task.
So in this procedure we were successfully able to tap the real intents of the patients, by asking them just to think of completing a particular task”.
The patient, after undergoing surgical procedure, was given training to effectively use the robotic arms and within no time she could fully control it. It was a big surprise for all the researchers there that she learned function on day one.
In the future, this technique with minor changes can potentially be used to control any external humanoid robot too.
For example, as soon as a disabled person thinks of walking on his foot to grab a book from a table, the robot starts to do what he had intended for himself. One soul and two bodies, mind-blowing !