Erik Sorto, a paralyzed 34-year old American, is finally drinking his first beer on his own after 13 years. Sorto been paralyzed from the neck down due to a gunshot. Ever since that he has been unable to move his arms or legs for 13 years.
Robotic Arm Solely Controlled By His Mind
He said, “I want to be able to drink my own beer – to be able to take a drink at my own pace, when I want to take a sip out of my beer and to not have to ask somebody to give it to me. I really miss that independence.”
Erik Sorto is the first person in the world to have a neuro-prosthetic device implanted in his brain. Just by his thoughts he can literally move his hand well enough for drinking a beer or even giving a proper handshake. Sorto feels this as “an out-of-body experience” and he wants to “run around and high-five everybody”. Scientists focused on his brain’s motor cortex, the part which generates the electrical signals down the spinal cord and control his muscular movements. They placed two micro-electrode arrays in the posterior parietal cortex. It is not an easy task for him, he has to control his mind and visualise difficult things to even make a minor movement.
Principal investigator Richard Andersen, professor of neuroscience at Caltech said, “When you move your arm, you really don’t think about which muscles to activate and the details of the movement — such as lift the arm, extend the arm, grasp the cup, close the hand around the cup, and so on.”
Sorto received the brain implant 2 years ago and he has been practicing and learning to control a robotic arm that is not attached to his body. Day by day technology amuses us and teaches us so many remarkable things.