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Paralyzed individuals use thought-controlled robotic arm to reach and grasp
Date:5/16/2012

ndicated that the technology is promising, but at present is still undergoing development and evaluation. "The researchers have begun the long, difficult process of testing and refining the system with feedback from patients, and they've found that it is possible for a person to mentally control a robotic limb in three-dimensional space. This represents a remarkable advance," he said.

As the trial continues, the BrainGate research team needs to test the technology in more individuals, they said. They envision a system that would be stable for decades, wireless and fully automated. For now, the sensor and therefore the user must be connected via cables to the rest of the system. Prior to each session with the robotic arms, a technician had to perform a calibration procedure that lasted 31 minutes on average. Improvements are also needed to enhance the precision and speed of control. In the foam target task, for example, a successful reach-and-grasp motion typically took almost 10 seconds.

The ultimate goal for helping people with paralysis is to reconnect the brain directly to paralyzed limbs rather than robotic ones, the researchers said. In the future, the BrainGate system might be used to control a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device, which delivers electrical stimulation to paralyzed muscles. Such technology has shown promise in monkeys. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has long supported the clinical trial research for BrainGate, with the goal of enabling mental control of an FES system for limb movement. In previous reports from the BrainGate2 trial, a participant was able to use the BrainGate system to direct the movements of a virtual, computer-animated arm designed to simulate FES control of a real arm.

To support this research, NIH has worked closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DA
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Contact: Daniel Stimson
stimsond@ninds.nih.gov
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Source:Eurekalert  

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