London, Oct 13: Giving a high five and gently rubbing your girlfriend’s hand would seem normal, but it was a miracle for Tim Hemmes, who was paralysed in a motorcycle accident seven years ago.
Thanks to a robotic arm controlled by thought alone, Hemmes was able to ‘touch’ his girlfriend, New Scientist reported.
He is the first participant in a clinical trial testing a brain implant that directs movement of an external device.
Neurosurgeons at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania implanted a grid of electrodes, about the size of a large postage stamp, on top of Hemmes’s brain over an area of neurons that fire when he imagines moving his right arm.
They threaded wires from the implant underneath the skin of his neck and pulled the ends out of his body near his chest.
The team then connected the implant to a computer that converts specific brainwaves into particular actions.
The team is now recruiting people for a trial of a more sensitive electrode grid that detects messages from individual neurons, rather than a group.
They plan to implant two electrode patches, one to control arm movements and another for fine hand motion.
The ultimate goal is to allow paralysed people to move individual fingers on a robotic hand. (ANI)