We’re facing a revolutionary breakthrough that comes to the benefit of all quadriplegic people. A man in California paralyzed from the neck down has had a chip implanted in his brain, allowing him to control a robotic arm with his mind alone. It seems that neural implants activate movement in robotic arm, making people able to shake hands, grab beers or hold things.
Erik Sorto, who was shot at the age of 21, has been paralyzed for more than 10 years. He was the lucky participant in a clinical trial that consisted of a special kind of implant. His brain was adapted to a pair of sensors, placed in the posterior parietal cortex, which is the place where the initial intent to make a movement is formed.
With this neural implants, the sensors can monitor brain activity and detect very complex and detailed bursts of electrical signals. These signals are retrieved and then carried from the patient’s brain to a computer, where they are translated into a command for a robotic arm. It seems that the trick works and now more people will be able to benefit from the complex procedure.
Sorto is one of the few who have been given brain implants and tested to move objects with the mind alone. This procedure dates back from 2006, when a paralyzed man moved a cursor on a computer using his mind only. Scientists have managed to improve, refine and upgrade the process in time and offer a better chance for all quadriplegic people.
Improvements in the testing process have brought significant differences from the initial phase of the trial. It seems that the study differs from most previous research in the area of the brain targeted for implants, and all the differences lead now to a better control of patients.
The posterior parietal cortex is the key to efficient control over artificial limbs and Erik Sorto is the living proof that impossible is nothing.
This is another breakthrough discovery that once more demonstrates everything happens in our minds. As long as we can have entire control over our thoughts, we can benefit from the outcome we imagine possible and beneficial. If we work long enough with our brains, we can control the way they react to our stimuli. Mr. Sorto managed to control his robotic limb since the very first day he tried. He was also able to shake hands with another person and now he’s progressing to moving the cursor on a computer screen.
Image Source: journal.frontiersin.org