Ann Conkle
May 16, 2012

VIDEO - Paralyzed people control robotic arms directly with brain activity

A new study in Nature reports that two paralyzed people were able to grasp objects using robotic arms that they controlled with a brain-computer interface. On April 12, 2011, nearly 15 years after she became paralyzed and unable to speak, one of the subjects controlled a robotic arm by thinking about moving her arm and hand to lift a bottle of coffee to her mouth and take a drink. That achievement is one of the advances in brain-computer interfaces, restorative neurotechnology and assistive robot technology described in Nature by the BrainGate2 collaboration of researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the German Aerospace Center. A 58-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man participated in the study. They had each been paralyzed by a stroke years earlier, which left them with no functional control of their limbs.