Brain implants let paralyzed woman move robot arm

(Credit: University of Pittsburgh)

Jan Scheuermann can’t use her limbs to feed herself, but she’s pretty good at grabbing a chocolate bar with her robot arm.

She’s become the first to demonstrate that people with a long history of quadriplegia can successfully manipulate a mind-controlled robot arm with seven axes of movement. Earlier experiments had shown that robot arms work with brain implants.

Scheuerman was struck by spinocerebellar degeneration in 1996. A study on the brain-computer interface (BCI) linking Scheuermann to her prosthetic was published online in this month’s issue of medical journal The Lancet.

Training on the BCI allowed her to move an arm and manipulate objects for the first time in nine years, surprising researchers.

It took her less than a year to be able to seize a chocolate bar with the arm, after which she declared, “One small nibble for a woman, one giant bite for BCI.” Check it out in the video below.

“This is a spectacular leap toward greater function and independence for people who are unable to move their own arms,” senior investigator Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt School of Medicine said in a re… [Read more]

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