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Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm Gains New Functionality

Research Adds New Dimensions To Hi-Tech Prosthetic


Research carried out at the University of Pittsburgh has helped to extend the functionality of a robotic arm used by Jan Scheuermann, a 55-year-old woman with quadriplegia.

The arm, which is controlled by Ms Scheuermann's thoughts, now has four additional hand movements: a finger abduction, scoop, thumb extension and pinch, enabling much more precise manipulation of objects.

It uses a brain-machine interface that transmits and interprets signals from electrode grids implanted in parts of the brain associated with control of the right arm and hand.

The new functionality increases the arm's manoeuvrability from seven dimensions to ten.

"We hope to repeat this level of control with additional participants and to make the system more robust, so that people who might benefit from it will one day be able to use brain-machine interfaces in daily life," said Dr Jennifer Collinger of the university.

Expert Opinion
Technological advances and research into prosthetics are crucial for those who have suffered serious injuries in the past and rely on equipment for many day-to-day tasks. In our work we have represented a number of people who have suffered limb loss in serious accidents, so we understand the importance of research such as this.

“We hope that technology like this will become more widespread and that further advancements will be made in the future to improve the quality of prosthetics available to those who have suffered serious injuries, enabling them to overcome their injuries and aide their road to recovery.”
Colin Ettinger, Partner

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