5. Feeling restored through brain-controlled robotic arm
Another mind-controlled robotic arm restored sensation in a patient’s arms and fingers, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh.
Four tiny microelectrode arrays that were about the size of half a button were implanted into Nathan Copeland’s brain. The neurosurgeons used imaging techniques before surgery to determine which parts of the brain were susceptible to feelings in the fingers and hands. Using brain-computer interface, a robotic arm controlled by his brain restored sensation in his hands.
“I can feel just about every finger – it’s really weird sensation,” said Copeland, a month after the surgery, in a press release. “Sometimes it feels electrical and sometimes its pressure, but for the most part, I can tell most of the fingers with definite precision. It feels like my fingers are getting touched or pushed.”
Copeland was able to feel pressure in his fingers and hands but was not able to feel hot and cold sensations.
“The ultimate goal is to create a system which moves and feels just like a natural arm would,” said Robert Gaunt, assistant professor of physical medical and rehabilitation at the university and lead on the research. “We have a long way to go to get there, but this is a great start.”