Mind Over Machine: Helping The Paralyzed Move - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mind Over Machine: Helping The Paralyzed Move

Posted: Updated:

PITTSBURGH (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Eating a hamburger, drinking a cup of coffee, hugging a loved one. Actions we take for granted everyday seem miraculous to someone who is paralyzed from the neck down. Researchers are now working on helping quadriplegics realize those goals by tapping into the power of their minds.

"These are all the dogs I've adopted out this year," Tim Hemmes told Ivanhoe.

Hemmes runs a pit bull rescue. He designed the website himself.

"Anything you can do on a computer, I'm able to do," Hemmes said.

Pretty amazing considering he does it all using his nose and a specialized computer. Hemmes is paralyzed from the neck down. A motorcycle accident changed everything for him eight years ago. His infant daughter was the last person he touched before he went for that ride. Now, Jaylei is Hemmes's driving force.

"I have to hug her one more time. I have to put my arms around her. Feel her, touch her," Hemmes said.

That's why he enrolled in an experimental study at the University of Pittsburgh, using the mind- to move a machine.

"Someone with a spinal cord injury or amputation can generate the thought to have movement but because of the spinal cord injury the thought doesn't go through," Dr. Michael Boninger, UPMC rehabilitation institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine told Ivanhoe.

Researchers placed an electrode grid onto the top of Hemmes's brain. A wire was attached to the grid-guided under the skin of his neck and exited from Hemmes's chest. That wire was plugged into a computer, decoding the brain signals and putting them into action. Hemmes was able to control a mechanical arm by using his thoughts - at one point reaching out to his girlfriend.

"It may have been plastic and metal, but I was able to put it there. I was able to hold it out to her for the first time. That's something I'll take with me forever," Hemmes said.

"Hemmes wants to be able to hug his daughter. We want him to be able to feel when he hugs his daughter." Dr. Boninger concluded.

The grid is still years away from commercial use, but it's giving Hemmes something to focus on.

The FDA only approved the grid for thirty days of testing. After the trial, surgeons removed it from Hemmes's brain. Hemmes's dream is to hug his daughter by her wedding day.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

HISTORY OF "BRAINGATE™: In the late 90s, Dr. Donald Humphrey of Emory University invented a method for brain-computer interfaces, which became the basis for a patent. Shortly after, a Brown University spin-off called Cyberkinetics™ was formed to turn a collection of lab tests into a regulatory approved set of clinical trials for the first-generation neural interface system: the result was the BrainGate™ Neural Interface System. Based on intellectual property from Emory, Brown, The University of Utah, Columbia, and MIT—as well as Cyberkinetics own patent portfolio—Cyberkinetics created a brain-implantable sensor on a Bionic® computer chip smaller than the size of a penny to monitor brain activity in patients and convert the intention of the user into commands. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Cyberkinetics the first of two Investigational Device Exemptions (IDEs) to perform the research. In the summer of 2009, BrainGate, Co. acquired the rights and assets for the BrainGate™ technology and intellectual property from Cyberkinetics™. Now, they have the long-term goal of creating a brain implant that allows people to use their thoughts to control electrical devices and they hope these technologies will become a powerful means to restore communication, mobility, and independence to people in need. (Source: BrainGate)

HOW IT WORKS: Tiny chips are implanted in the brain. Those electrodes then tap into electrical signals from brain cells that command movement. They are able to bypass a broken spinal cord and relay the messages to the robotic third arm. (Source: BrainGate)

DARPA ARM: The robotic ARM (Autonomous Robotic Manipulation) was developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which developed the humanlike arm in a $100 million project for DARPA, the Pentagon's research agency. It was designed to be closer to a natural arm than any existing prosthetic device in its appearance, ability and connection to the body. It has 22 degrees of motion, including four fingers that move independently, a thumb that pivots on a ball joint — a first for the prosthetics industry — as well as a powered shoulder, elbow and wrist. It weighs about nine pounds, around the weight of a natural limb. (Source: USA Today, Healio)

EXPERIMENT UPDATE: The ARM program is developing software to perform human-level tasks quickly with minimal direction. During rigorous testing in November 2011, the best team achieved 93% success in grasping modeled and unmodeled objects. The ARM program has entered its second phase, where focus turns to complex bimanual manipulation scenarios. (Source: DARPA)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Anita Srikamav
University of Pittsburg School of Medicine
srikamav@upmc.edu

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:00:21 GMT
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.
    more>>
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.

    more>>
  • Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-04-21 22:15:09 GMT
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.
    more>>
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.

    more>>
  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
  • Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:15:13 GMT
    CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Eric Robinson alive after he went into cardiac arrest. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
    A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest. CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
  • Helping High Risk Hearts

    Helping High Risk Hearts

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:15:09 GMT
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.