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Jan Scheuermann uses a mind-controlled robot arm to bring a chocolate bar to her mouth.

Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, brings a chocolate bar to her mouth using a robot arm she is guiding with her thoughts. Researcher Elke Brown, M.D., watches in the background. Click the photo to download it in high resolution. Photo credit: "UPMC"

Pitt Team Publishes New Findings from Mind-Controlled Robot Arm Project

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 16, 2014 – In another demonstration that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes.

The findings by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, published online today in the Journal of Neural Engineering, describe, for the first time, 10-degree brain control of a prosthetic device in which the trial participant used the arm and hand to reach, grasp, and place a variety of objects.

“Our project has shown that we can interpret signals from neurons with a simple computer algorithm to generate sophisticated, fluid movements that allow the user to interact with the environment,” said senior investigator Jennifer Collinger, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Pitt School of Medicine, and research scientist for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
 
After surgery in October to remove the electrode arrays, Ms. Scheuermann concluded her participation in the study.
 
“This is been a fantastic, thrilling, wild ride, and I am so glad I’ve done this,” she said. “This study has enriched my life, given me new friends and coworkers, helped me contribute to research and taken my breath away. For the rest of my life, I will thank God every day for getting to be part of this team.”

Read the full press release here.

Downloadable images and video are available upon request. Interested media may contact Anita Srikameswaran.

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Jan Scheuermann stacks cones with a mind-controlled robot arm. 

Jan Scheuermann stacks cones with a mind-controlled robot arm.

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