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In a first of its kind incident, scientists have succeeded in assisting a paralyzed men “feel” again. The researchers helped the man by implanting a chip in his brain which controls a robotic arm.
The scientific experiment was conducted in collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. To achieve this feat, the scientists implanted electrodes which were smaller than a grain of sand in the cortex of the paralyzed man’s brain. The researchers then stimulated the particular region in the brain associated with movement of hands.
The researchers then connected the man with a robotic arm and pressed the fingers of the prosthesis, the man then said that he felt a sensation in the right fingers of his paralyzed arm. The experiment has been repeated with the subject of the research over several months. The researchers said that the findings and the result of this experiment could provide a great insight into restoration of function in people with paralyzed limbs.
The research was featured on Thursday at a White House Frontiers Conference on advances in science, medicine and technology. The event was attended by the United States President Barack Obama.
The paralyzed man, Nathan Copeland, lost the ability of sensation in all four of his limbs when he met with an accident at the age of 18. Copeland’s car spun out of control and crashed on a rainy night on 2004. After the accident, Copeland was diagnosed with tetraplegia which means paralysis in all limbs. The young man then volunteered for an experiment five years ago at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in an effort to feel his limbs again.
The research team behind this experiment included experts like biomedical engineers, surgeons and doctors of rehabilitative medicine. The experiment proved to be successful as the team was looking to restore not only movement in the limbs but also the sensation which has not been done before.