Tag Archives | Prosthetics

DARPA: Paralyzed Man Becomes First Person to Feel Physical Sensations in Prosthetic Connected to Brain

METIS Bionic Prosthetis by C. Darius Delaunay-Driquert
Under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, a paralyzed 8-year-old man “has become the first person to be able to ‘feel’ physical sensations through a prosthetic hand directly connected to his brain.”

DARPA’s press release:

A 28-year-old who has been paralyzed for more than a decade as a result of a spinal cord injury has become the first person to be able to “feel” physical sensations through a prosthetic hand directly connected to his brain, and even identify which mechanical finger is being gently touched.

The advance, made possible by sophisticated neural technologies developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics points to a future in which people living with paralyzed or missing limbs will not only be able to manipulate objects by sending signals from their brain to robotic devices, but also be able to sense precisely what those devices are touching.

“We’ve completed the circuit,” said DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez. “Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback from signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.

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Wheelchair Controlled By Brain Signals And Prosthetics That ‘Feel’


Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Mitchell

Unveiled at the science conference in Washington, bionics introduced thought-controlled wheelchairs could create new opportunities for paralyzed patients. BBC News reports:

Thought-controlled wheelchairs and nerve-controlled prosthetic arms are some of the latest innovations in bionics being discussed at a science conference in Washington.

The wheelchair can be directed by brain signals detected using a cap fitted to the user and is the work of scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL).

It is part of efforts to control machines directly via brain signals, which could lead to new devices for the paralysed and disabled.

The main focus of bionics to date has been on providing prosthetics for amputees. Prosthetic arms can now be controlled by nerve signals in the remaining arm, which can be picked up by electric sensors on the skin.

Those with arms amputated above the elbow, where important nerves have been severed, can also potentially control such devices, thanks to what is called “Targeted Muscle Reinnervation” surgery (TMR).

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