In some sessions, the woman controlled a DLR Light-Weight Robot III arm, which is heavier than the DEKA arm and designed to be used as an external assistive device. She used this arm prior to the DEKA arm in the foam target task, and had a success rate of 21 percent. In other sessions with the DLR arm, her task was to reach for a bottled drink, bring it to her mouth and sip from a straw. She was able to complete four out of six attempts.
This is not the first glimmer of hope from human BCI research. Participants in the BrainGate trial and other studies have also used BCI technology to perform point-and-click actions with a computer cursor, a level of control that has been used for communication.
"This is another big jump forward to control the movements of a robotic arm in three-dimensional space. We're getting closer to restoring some level of everyday function to people with limb paralysis," said John Donoghue, Ph.D., who leads the development of BrainGate technology and is the director of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University.
Dr. Donoghue said the woman's ability to use the BrainGate was especially encouraging because her stroke occurred nearly 15 years ago and her sensor was implanted more than five years ago. Some researchers have wondered whether neurons in the motor cortex might die or stop generating meaningful signals after years of disuse. Researchers in the field have also worried that years after implantation, the sensor might break down and become less effective at enabling complex motor functions.
Roderic Pettigrew, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which supports the research, i
|Contact: Daniel Stimson|
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke