Mind Control Helping Paralyzed Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are among several in the world studying mind-controlled limbs.

In 1998, Jan Scheuermann was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration, a condition in which the connections between the brain and muscles slowly deteriorate. Now at the age of 53, Jan is paralyzed from the neck down.

“The challenges of not being able to walk or feed myself, being dependent on others, those are not as hard as the emotional challenges, when I couldn’t cook breakfast for my kids anymore,” said Scheuermann.

The mother of two struggles every day, but over the past year, she has been given hope. She is part of a study being done by researchers with UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study is focused on brain-computer interface technology. Using electrodes placed on the brain, the technology allows Jan to use a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm to perform every day motions, like moving objects.

“I had a hard time the first couple of days but very quickly it became very natural and very smooth and almost automatic,” said Scheuermann.

Researchers say eventually this technology could help a wide range of people, including stroke patients and brain injury patients.

For more information on participating in trials, call 412-383-1355.

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