|Image source: Technology Review website|
A lot of progress has been made in the world of prosthetics, but we have not seen a whole lot when it comes to mind controlled prosthetic limbs.
That’s going to change soon!
Scientists at Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California recently announced that they have invented a new robotic leg that is controlled by EEG signals (electric impulses generated by our brains) that are fed into a computer. This robotic leg is meant for both able bodied people and people with spinal cord injuries.
One major factor that was given utmost importance during testing was the number of “false starts” this system would (not) generate. Imagine a person with this robotic leg waiting to cross a railway track or a busy road – false starts triggered by the brain’s electric impulses would put the robotic leg in motion, making the person to walk (when not required), and ultimately causing a fatal accident. Fortunately, during testing, there were zero false starts observed!
This robotic leg has so far been tested on able bodied subjects, and the next step is to test it on people with spinal cord injuries and incomplete motor skills. Achieving success with the latter group would be a giant leap in this field of research. As of now, the ability to start and stop walking was tested. Future testing would include turning and sitting.
Here’s a video that demonstrates this robotic leg on an able bodied person. The subject in this video instructs his legs to start and stop walking for a total of five minutes.