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Brain-computer interface reconnects disabled patient’s brain to his muscles (video)

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As part of the European TOBI (Tools for Brain‐computer Interaction) research project, using a brain-computer interface (BCI), scientists have found a way to help disabled people to “reconnect” their brain to their muscles in certain cases – an effect that remains after using the BCI.

Scientists have found out that this technique can help disabled people to “reconnect” their brain to their muscles in certain cases – an effect that remains after using the BCI.

A patient of a rehabilitation clinic in Switzerland is using a brain-computer interface to help him recover the mobility of his paralyzed right arm. Wearing an EEG cap that reads his brain waves as he concentrates on moving his hand, the computer recognizes the pattern and then sends an impulse in the electrodes stimulating the arm’s muscles, as explains Dr. Abdul Al-Khodairy, physician at the SUVAcare clinic (see embedded video below).

Scientists have found out that this technique can help disabled people to “reconnect” their brain to their muscles in certain cases – an effect that remains after using the BCI.

By combining the brain-cap with electrical stimulation, patients in the future could be able to regain control of their paralyzed limbs. In the TOBI trials researchers also managed to regrow nerves that, after intensive training, allowed the patients to retain some of that control even after the electronics was removed.

The Tools for Brain‐computer Interaction (TOBI) project, led by Prof. José Millán at The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, recently reported progress in various researches all involving the use of BCIs: they allowed paralyzed patients to control a computer with their mind, to control a mobile robot, or even to do multitasking with brain-computer interfaces.

For four years TOBI has been developing brain machine interfaces with funding provided by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Program for Research, which is coordinated by EPFL. More than 100 patients with severe motor impairments have participated in the development of core sensor and actuator technologies. The group recently displayed their most successful projects, but cautioned that they are not yet ready for prime time.