Paralysis has been a serious issue for all and sundry. Those affected with paralysis have been tough to aid with most prosthetic devices out there. After all, the human muscles and nerves need much complex types of control than that. Naturally, people absolutely dread the very thought of paralysis, especially those who lost limbs, because there are no prosthetic limbs available yet that can be mind-controlled. However, BrainGate, with the research facilities from various universities, may be able to turn this around with their wireless brain implant that could give the paralyzed more intricate control over their limbs.
BrainGate is working on a system that would register a signal from the brain to perform a certain action, filter it via computer and send that message to an electric stimulation device. Upon receiving this command, the patient’s muscles will be activated. The patient simply has to think up and to the right. The rest is up to the controller to determine things such as the action and the direction.
The brain implant is a 16-channel sensor that would register the signal linked to limb movements and wirelessly transmit it to the computer. The computer translates the signal into command using a specific algorithm. This is done so that the electrical stimulation device can recognize the command and activate upto as many as 18 hand and arm muscles.
It is worth noting that the fine-tuning of the computer algorithm has been ensured using a virtual reality model arm designed by researchers at Case Western. Interestingly, researcher’s preliminary testing of the system was based around recording brain signals and converting them into command simply for the movement of a computer cursor.
The research is only limited to one arm’s movement so far but it is still a step ahead in regards to allowing patients more reach with less accessories attached. Moreover, it is heartening to note that a sensor that was successfully tested on primates is now undergoing a clinical trial to prove safety if used in human patients.