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One of the goals of implanted neural interfaces is to provide natural, real-time control of devices that would be helpful to people with paralysis or limb loss.

The past few years have seen the development of markedly advanced prosthetics for people who have had one or both arms amputated due to trauma or vascular disease. These prosthetic limbs, however, require better controllers (than, for example, a series of switches placed under the foot). We hypothesize that using the brain signals directly related to intended movement of the hand will enable easier and more complex control over these superb prosthetic limbs.

Similarly, for people with cervical spinal cord injury or brainstem stroke, the signals from the motor cortex have been “disconnected” from the limb. One approach to providing improved environmental control would be to provide safe and useful robotic limbs, which could be attached to a wheelchair and used much in the same way the arm and hand was used prior to injury to the nervous system.

The real “dream” for the technology is to reconnect brain-to-limb. With our colleagues at the Functional Electrical Stimulation Center at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland VA Medical Center, we are working to develop systems that we hope will allow people with paralysis to reanimate their own limbs, simply by thinking about the movement of that limb.

Research supported by:

Rehabilitation R&D Service, Department of Veterans Affairs logo National Institutes of Health logo National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering logo The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development logo National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders logo National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke logo National Science Foundation logo Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency logo
Katie Samson Foundation logo Doris Duke Charitable Foundation logo MGH-Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke logo
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