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Home Industry News Robotic arm technology allows patient to regain sensation of touch

Robotic arm technology allows patient to regain sensation of touch

18th October 2016

New robotic technology has helped a paralysed man to feel the sensation of touch again following a groundbreaking procedure.

A team from the University of Pittsburgh have equipped a 28-year-old man with a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) system, allowing him to operate a mind-controlled robotic arm using his thoughts alone.

Inputs from the arm are transmitted through a microelectrode array implanted in the brain, where the neurons that control hand movement and touch are located. Imaging techniques were used to identify the exact regions in the patient's brain corresponding to feelings in his fingers and palm.

Currently, the subject is able to feel pressure and distinguish its intensity to a limited degree, although it is not currently possible to identify whether a substance is hot or cold. Further research will now be conducted to develop the capabilities of the system.

Study leader Dr Robert Gaunt, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Pitt School of Medicine, said: "The ultimate goal is to create a system which moves and feels just like a natural arm would. We have a long way to go to get there, but this is a great start."

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