The so-called little things in life are most often taken for granted. We often don’t think twice about everyday things like walking or hugging. But imagine waking up one day having complete paralysis, unable to move or pick anything up with your arms. By that moment, I’m pretty sure you would feel like your life has no more sense at all.
This 55-year old woman named, Jen Scheuermann, who suffered from quadriplegic paralysis since 2003, had broken through the mold and is now showing everyone that with the help of technology, you can do so many cool things – even if you are no longer capable of moving a single limb but can fly a plane with your thoughts.
So, instead of feeling sorry for herself, she decided to take part in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (known as DARPA) robotics program where doctors surgically implanted two pea-sized electrodes in her brains left motor cortex.
The operation in 2012 proved to be a success as she has been able to control a robotic arm to do many things that she had not been able to do for years.
For instance, moving a chocolate bar to her mouth, doing hand shakes and making gestures like a thumbs up.
In addition to moving a robotic arm, Scheuermann was also able to experience piloting a plane with the same technology. The research team let Scheuermann connect to a flight simulator, where she had amazing results flying an F-35 jet and Cessna airplane not with a joystick – but with her thoughts alone.
Scheuermann’s impressive capacity to tolerate the electrodes for the past two years has led to this high-level experiment. As a result Jan believes that there is a purpose for her condition.
Here came this study where they needed me. You know, they couldn’t just pick any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street. In a few years, the quadriplegics and the amputees that this is going to help – the Department of Defense is funding some of this for vets – to be of use to them, in service to them, what an honor,” Scheuermann stated.
According to DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar,
In doing that work, we can now see the future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body. We can only imagine amazing good things and amazing potentially bad things that are on the other side of that door.”
On the other hand, while the results give hope to anyone who suffers from limited mobility, they also draw up questions about whether the technology could be used for destructive purposes – such as soldiers controlling surrogate versions with their minds, out of combat.
via Washington Post