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Brain-controlled devices may improve life for paralyzed people

Victims of paralysis will suffer not only suffer immobility, but often experience a severely decreased quality of life. Loss of limb or the inability to move without a wheelchair or assistance can severely limit independence. Victims of spinal cord injuries or amputation in Los Angeles, California may benefit from new technology that allows a disabled person to control machinery using only brain connections.

Brain-controlled devices that are currently being tested in labs could significantly improve the life of disabled persons. The robotic technology allows a person to control artificial limbs and mobility devices using only brain connections. One lab tested the device on a monkey that could control the walking patterns of a robot using only is brain. The researchers were also able to get the monkey to move a virtual arm and feel virtual sensations.

Neural connections made through the devices restore movement, allowing a brain-computer interface that allows a person to control a robotic limb or wheelchair through brain signals. This could give disabled persons control over a wheelchair or robotic limb. Though victims may not have the ability to walk again, they can regain some independence through the ability to control mobility devices.

This technology offers a significant breakthrough that could be a major step towards independent living for victims of paralysis or loss of limb. For those who are dependent on Social Security disability and unable to work, the new devices can offer improved quality of life. Patients with "locked-in syndrome" can feel, think and understand language but cannot move or speak will benefit most from this technology. The brain-controlled interface offers the power of mobility without having to move or speak

Source: CNN, "Brain-controlled devices may help paralyzed people," Elizabeth Landau, Oct. 17, 2012

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