Thanks for the memories, Lee. Erik is the new Bionic Man

When I was a teenager, Saturday evenings were a special day and time for me. I would never miss my show no matter what. “The Six Million Dollar Man.” The original Bionic Man himself was much ahead of his time. Mr. Lee Majors is still one of my favorites today, but what about the next Bionic Man? His name is Erik.

Researchers revealed that a paralyzed man who was shot with a gun ten years ago is able to shake hands, drink beer and play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ by thinking them .

A chip was inserted into the brain of Erik Sorto two years ago so that it could translate his thoughts and his robotic arm would move accordingly. Thirty four- year- old Sorto spent time with researchers and occupational therapist to improve his movements .

This venture of developing a mind-controlled prosthetics to aid people with disability will help them live back to normal . Ten years ago, some who had the same brain implants were able to control a computer cursor or control the movement of prosthetic limbs .

Some details of Sorto’s procedure was published on Thursday by the journal Science.

Small chips were implanted in Sorto’s brain which took five hours to complete in 2013 . The device that responds to a signal recorded the electrical activity of around 100 brain cells when Sorto thinks about grabbing and stretching .

Richard Anderson who is a principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology said that researchers would ask Sorto to imagine what he wished to do without stopping the steps of the movements .

Sorto worked,  after weeks of concentrating his thoughts on certain movements,  with Caltech scientists and therapists at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center to  to move the robotic arm . His first movement was to do a handshake until he was able to do more complicated tasks . The sensors translated their signals to the arm avoiding the damaged spinal cord.

Scientist had always aimed to create robotic arms that could naturally move. A past research focussed a part of the brain known as the motor cortex that controls movement.

The latest procedure concentrated on another part of the brain known as the posterior parietal cortex which is responsible in the planning of movements . Their aim is to make  a prosthetic limb move smoother.

Image: 1.mirror.co.uk

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/21/paralyzed-man-uses-his-thoughts-to-control-a-robot/

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