People with paralysis can now move robotics with their thoughts

Woman using robotic arm
A 58-year-old woman, paralyzed by a stroke for almost 15 years, uses her thoughts to control a robotic arm, grasp a bottle of coffee, serve herself a drink, and return the bottle to the table.
Photo courtesy braingate2.org

New research shows that people who are paralyzed have the ability to move robotic arms with their thoughts through an implanted chip on the brain.

The report, published by the journal Nature, is the first to show humans with brain injuries can send neural signals to a computer in order to move a prosthetic arm. It's a new way to imagine the connection between brain and body, and as robotic technology in medicine continues to grow, we'll look at how scientists are finding ways to fix once incurable disabilities, by using our own minds.

Chet Moritz, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and physiology and biology at the University of Washington, will join The Daily Circuit Thursday to discuss the new research.

"I think that certainly the ability for electronic devices to improve functions in paralyzed individuals is only beginning to develop... as we enhance our ability to replace function and to restore natural function to individuals," Moritz said.

Leigh Hochberg, neurologist and neuroengineer at the Providence VA Medical Center, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, will also join the discussion.

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