Man moves arm for first time with brain-controlled bionic limb

#1  Top Rated Post
Man moves arm for first time with brain-controlled bionic limb

Lithuanian man Martynas Girulis with his new bionic prosthetic arm and hand (AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS)

Martynas Girulis cannot stop moving.
He forks a few potatoes onto his plate, pours himself a glass of water, drinks it through a straw, then gets right back up.
This is new. The 21-year-old Lithuanian was born with a neuromuscular disease that left him unable to use his arms. But just last year he got a bionic arm, which he controls with his brain, after undergoing surgery his Austrian doctor calls the first of its kind.

Pre-surgery, both his arms were bent at the elbow and inert. Now he is taking things out of the fridge, putting them back in, placing a vase on the table and picking up a box of chocolates.
"He's the first patient with a birth defect to undergo bionic reconstruction," said Oskar Aszmann, who performed the operation in Vienna in November and is a world expert in reconstructive surgery.
"This has never been done before," said the Medical University of Vienna surgeon.
Bionic arms and hands are not new. Aszmann himself carried out the first bionic hand operation in 2010. But unlike previous recipients, who were amputees, Girulis had a useless limb from birth.
His case takes the use of bionic transplants an important step further, because he had never used the limb and so had to train his brain on how to operate it.
"In the very recent past we saw many improvements in terms of increasing the ability to control hand prostheses and to gather sensory feedback," said Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne who developed the "feeling" limb.
"This opens up very promising opportunities to improve the quality of life of disabled people," he told AFP.
'I found a hand!'
Girulis was born with arthrogryposis, a neuromuscular disease preventing him from rotating and flexing the muscles in his arms and, to a lesser extent, in his legs.
He only learnt to walk at the age of six after undergoing six major surgeries in Lithuania and Sweden and has always needed someone to help him throughout the day.
"He was always an active kid. He could even ride a bike, by leaning against the handlebars with his whole upper body," said his mother Danguole Giruliene.
His life changed on February 28, 2011, she told AFP: "He ran down the stairs yelling: 'I found a hand, I found a hand!'"
Thanks to the Internet, Girulis had discovered Aszmann and his work. Three and a half years later he got a prosthesis of his own.
Making room for it required amputating Girulis's inert right arm -- a decision he mulled over with his family for more than a year and which was also reviewed by a university ethics committee.
Before Aszmann could perform the elective amputation, he had to transplant nerves into Girulis's shoulder for him to be able to control his new limb.
Girulis also had to train his shoulder muscles for a year and had muscle transplanted from his thigh.
"Manoeuvring this hand is like flying a helicopter," he said, smiling.
To get the hang of it, he practiced with a virtual hand on the computer. He would move it mentally with the help of electrodes, all while controlling his muscle activity on another screen.
Every time he moved his arm, he would hear a beep meant to make him fully aware of the motion he was making.
"What I enjoy these days is being able to do small things: to pick up a fork, raise a glass, grab a hand rail on the bus," said Girulis, who is finishing up high school via distance learning and thinking about studying psychology.
The Lithuanian government covered 80 percent of the cost of the 92,000-euro bionic arm and 5,000-euro amputation.
Aszmann plans to publish an article on the case this year, after making sure Girulis's bionic arm continues to work well over the long term.
He has already received similar surgery requests.

Read more: Man moves arm for first time with brain-controlled bionic limb | CTV News

Absolutely amazing what they can do now!!! Imagine the joy this guy feels from freedom he's gained!

Thought-controlled prosthetic limbs possibly within reach, scientists say
Jarni Blakkarly, Reuters
First posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 08:59 AM EST | Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 09:06 AM EST
SYDNEY - Thought-controlled prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and computers may be available within a decade, say Australian scientists who are planning to conduct human trials next year on a high-tech implant that can pick up and transmit signals from the brain.
Animals have already been tested with the device, called a stentrode, which is the size of a matchstick and planted inside a blood vessel near the brain.
It uses a web of small electrodes to pick up neuron signals from the brain and converts them into electrical commands that may one day, the scientists hope, allow paralyzed patients to control a bionic limb or wheelchair.
"The big breakthrough is that we now have a minimally invasive brain-computer interface device which is potentially practical for long-term use," said Terry O'Brien, head of medicine at the Department of Medicine and Neurology at the University of Melbourne.
The current method for accessing brain signals requires complex open-brain surgery and becomes less effective over several months, which means it is rarely applied, he said.
The stentrode is less invasive because it can be inserted through a vein in a patient's neck and placed in a blood vessel near the brain.
The animal trial was on the functionality of the stentrode to pick up neuro signals, not the converting of the electronic signals into movement of bionic limbs, which is established technology.
Dr Ganesh Naik, from the University of Technology Sydney, who is not involved in the project, said animal trials did not always translate into successful human trials.
"If it functions as it should at the (human) trial, it will be a massive breakthrough," said Ganesh.
Other potential uses for the stentrode include monitoring the brain signals of people with epilepsy to detect an oncoming seizure. If successful, the device could also allow a patient to communicate through a computer, said Professor Clive May from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, who is working on the project.
"People would need to be trained in how to think the right thoughts to make it work, like learning to play music. You need to learn it, but once you do, it becomes natural," May said.
The device was developed by Melbourne University, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. The project is funded by both the Australian government and the U.S military, which sees potential benefits for paraplegic veterans.
A stentrode, the size of a matchstick and planted inside a blood vessel near the brain, is seen in this January 20, 2016 handout photo released by the University of Melbourne. The device uses a web of small electrodes to pick up neuron signals from the brain and converts them into electrical commands that could allow paralyzed patients to control a bionic limb or wheelchair. Picture taken January 20, 2016. (REUTERS/University of Melbourne/Handout via Reuters)

Thought-controlled prosthetic limbs possibly within reach, scientists say | Worl
I have all my fingers and limbs, how many 'devices' could I control? and can that operate hydraulic valves? (one man gold dredge??)