Robotic arm controlled by patient's brain
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Robotic arm controlled by patient's brain

US researchers have been experimenting with a robotic arm that can be controlled by a patient thinking about moving their own arms and hands.

In a project called BrainGate, scientists from the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital invited two participants with tetraplegia to use their own neural activity to precisely control robotic arms, reaching and grasping for objects in three-dimensional space.

The work, published this week in Nature, suggests it could be feasible to use mind-driven commands to restore some lost arm function for people with paralysis.

In this video, one of the participants, Cathy Hutchinson, uses a robot arm to pick up a bottle of coffee, bring it to her lips and tip it to take a drink through a straw.

According to the researchers this was the first time she had served herself anything to drink for nearly 15 years.

Video courtesy Brown University / Massachusetts General Hospital

  • 16 May 2012
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