Prosthetic limbs are often a very viable option for the disabled persons in helping them move about. However, it often takes a lot of physical activity on the part of a disabled person to use a prosthetic limb. Researchers have long been trying to find alternate ways to control the movement of prosthetic limbs. And now, they have come up with an excellent solution.
Researchers at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California have been able to build a prosthetic limb that can be controlled by the brain. An Do and his team have been working on it for sometime and have tested it on actual subjects to ascertain the results.
Interestingly, this mind-controlled limb is not for disable people alone. Rather, perfectly healthy human beings can also make use of it. In fact, Do and his team tested out the limb on an able-bodied person. They claim that the subject was able to get a hang of it, and transmit brain signals rightly, within ten minutes.
A significant problem with mind-controlled systems in the past had been that sometimes they would detect a signal which wasn’t intended. For instance, a random thought may be discerned as a signal to do something by them. In the case of a prosthetic limb, such false alarms can be very dangerous.
However, Do assures that the technology is 100% accurate and doesn’t respond to false alarms. He says, “By the end of the experiment, the subject had no false alarms.”
People with spinal cord injury will be the ones who can benefit most from such a limb. It’s terribly hard for such people to move their limbs, and a brain-controlled prosthetic limb can be a great solution. However, Do and his team still has to test the system on someone with spinal cord injury. Only that will tell how ready this mind-controlled system is, for the real deal.
Source: Cornell University Library
Courtesy: Technology Review