Thursday 13 October 2011

Quadriplegic man Controls Robot Arm with his mind

Not so much as controlling mind over matter as touching matter with the mind, albeit with the assistance of an electrode attached to the brain and much computer training, a quadriplegic man using the "mental eye-grabbing" technique has begun to interactively physically touch his loved ones.

Tim Hemmes, a former hockey player from Connoquenessing Township, Butler County Pennsylvania, USA hadn't moved any of his limbs since a motorcycle accident seven years earlier. Nevertheless after Tim got psychologically acquainted with his disabilities he managed to learn how to operate a wheelchair and a computer with head motions. Then, perhaps by chance Dr. Michael Boninger, director of UPMC's Rehabilitation Institute got Tim interested in pursuing the mind operated robot project.

The magical aspect to this project was the surgical procedure of placing an electronic grid against the brain without penetration otherwise refereed to as Electrocorticography or ECoG, which less intrusively captures brain signals.

"ECoG picks up an array of brain signals, almost like a secret code or new language, that a computer algorithm can interpret and then move a robotic arm based on the person's intentions. It's a simple explanation for complex science." Source

The documentary video here outlines Tim Hemmes experience with the adaptive robotic technology and highlights his joys when for the first time in seven years he was able to artificially touch the hand of his partner.

A rather inspiring aside to Tim Hemmes recovery has been his interest and ability of updating his blog for helping to rescue homeless pit bull dogs and find them new owners.

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