Pitt to Study ‘Brain-Computer Interface’ for Paralyzed PatientsBy Santoni, Matthew; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
Article reports on government funded studies to develop brain computer interfaces that allow paralyzed patients to control robotic limbs using their minds. A government grant of 6.8 million dollars will allow researchers to study how computer interfaces implanted into patients’ brains could help them move robotic arms that mimic human ones. A 800,00 dollar portion of the grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health enables scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute to recruit a patient with a spinal injury and implant a 16 electrode interface onto the surface of the part of the brain controlling motor functions. The electrodes pick up groups of brain cells as they “fire,” and a computer then processes those signals, converting them into movements. The implant will remain in place up to a month, letting the patient manipulate virtual objects on a computer screen and real life objects using robotic limbs. The balance of the grant money, allocated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will fund a joint program led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to further develop a robotic arm by adding a wrist joint to its mechanical gripper, shoulder, and elbow, and eventually developing a hand for it, allowing it to make complex movements that are more lifelike.
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