There's a hand lying on the blanket on Matt Nagle's desk and he's staring at it intently, thinking "Close, close," as the scientists gathered around him look on. To their delight, the hand twitches and its outstretched fingers close around the open palm, clenching to a fist.In that moment, Nagle made history. Paralysed from the neck down after a vicious knife attack four years ago, he is the first person to have controlled an artificial limb using a device chronically implanted into his brain.
The article describes the use of implants to collect electronic thought signals from severely paralysed patients, and scientists' efforts to convert those signals into usable control signals. It's a long tough road, filled with problems, but the scientists are still dreaming big:
Nicolelis says his goal is to use brain implants to allow the disabled to walk again. He has already started designing a wearable robotic "exoskeleton" that could help power paralysed legs - think Wallace and Gromit's The Wrong Trousers, only with better control.
Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area.
*Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks!
Specifically, my links.
Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com
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A note on permalinks
I find that a lot of people don't know about permalinks. When you want to have someone read a
specific blog entry, then you should find that blog entry's permalink, click on that, and send
them the resulting browser address. Otherwise they will just be sent to the blog in general, and
between your reading the blog entry and your correspondent's or audience's getting to it, a whole
slew of material may have pushed the entry off the front page. In this blog, the permalinks are
the timestamp at the end of the entry. (Feel free to frequently send your friends and
family permalinks from my blog!)