Providing People With Another Chance

Can you imagine a time where people who have suffered from such injuries that take away their ability to walk or communicate, are able to receive a second chance at being able to complete those tasks? That time might be closer than you think. Engineers, neuroscientists, and computer scientists around the world are working on brain machine interfaces (BMI), which are assistive technologies that allow signals to cross throughout the brain in order to allow those with disabilities to talk, walk, and begin living their lives again. BrainGate is an ongoing clinical trial that is investigating the safety of invasive neural interfaces, which are sensors that are surgically implanted on to the motor cortex of the brain and can control a computer cursor or a robotic arm. The goal of the current trial is to measure the safety of the trial. BrainGate made national news last year when it was able to help a woman who had been paralyzed due to a stroke for more than fifteen years poured herself a cup of coffee by using a robotic arm that was driven by her thoughts alone. Though the results of these trials due look promising, no definite conclusions can be drawn about its safety. With technology such as this, millions of people around the world could regain independence that they have previously lost.