Brain Implant Restores Sense Of Touch To Paralyzed Man

Brain Implant - American Health Council

Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland’s ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching.

A few months ago, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center gave Copeland a new way to reach out and feel the world around him. It’s a mind-controlled robotic arm that has pressure sensors in each fingertip that send signals directly to Copeland’s brain.

The scientists published details of their work online Thursday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“It’s a really weird sensation,” Copeland, now 30, says in a video made shortly after he first tried the system. “Sometimes it feels, kind of, like electrical and sometimes it’s more of a pressure.” But he also describes many of the sensations coming from his robotic hand as “natural.”

When Copeland touches an object with the robotic hand, he can tell which finger the sensation is coming from and whether an object feels hard or soft, says Robert Gaunt, a bioengineer and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh.

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