A new electrode implant may help people with severe disabilities manipulate and pick up objects by themselves. The experimental BrainGate implant is a 96-electrode sensor the size of a baby asprin – and it allows people suffering from paralysis to control a robotic arm using only their thoughts.
When “S3,” a 58-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke which rendered her immobile 15 years ago, used the arm to reach out and pick up a cup of coffee, researchers knew their trial had been a success. All she had to do was visualize her own arm and hand reaching toward the cup.
In this amazing video, you can see the array in action and hear the researchers explain how the technology works:
The technology is still in the clinical trial phase, and researchers are quick to emphasize that there’s still much more work to be done before it can be made widely available. Still, it’s exciting to see the BrainGate in action and know that, someday soon, similar products may be available to assist people with profound mobility issues. More information about the study is available in the journal Nature.
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Photo credit: Brown University