Paralysed Woman Uses Thoughts To Do Things Using Breakthrough Technology

By @vitthernandez on
Perne (R) Checks The Controls Of A Flight Simulator
Igor Perne (R), 53, an electronic engineer and a member of the International Virtual Aviation Organisation (IVAO), checks the controls after landing a virtual flight in a flight simulator in Nova Vas November 13, 2014. In 2011, Perne, a lifelong flying enthusiast, bought parts of a written-off Cyprus Airways airliner and then spent two and a half years turning the entire nose of the scrapped aircraft into an elaborate flight simulator. Perne had to install some 10km (6.21 miles) of wiring to connect some 300 working switches and 250 indicator lights, as well as hooking up six computers to run the simulation. Perne cooperates with fellow flying enthusiasts in the Netherlands, Germany, and several other countries, flying on virtual routes across a virtual European sky, complete with virtual flight control operators and realistic checklists and weather conditions. Picture taken November 13. Reuters/Srdjan Zivulovic

Jen Scheuermann, a 55-year-old paralysed woman, last week underwent surgery in which two pea-sized lobes were implanted in her brain. The procedure was part of two-year experiment of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

By using her brain, she could fly fighter jets via flight simulator, eat chocolate and give high fives. The technological breakthrough uses the lobe implant for Jen to operate a robotic arm, reports Daily Mail.

Her brain movements control a robotic arm that she could move to place a chocolate bar in her mouth and connect her to a flight simulator using her thoughts to fly an F-35 jet and Cessna plane.

Jen became a quadriplegic in 2003 because of spinocerebellar degeneration. The ailment is also known as spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a condition characterised by progressive problems with movement. People with this condition initially experience problems with coordination and balance. Other symptoms are speech and swallowing difficulties, muscle stiffness and weakness in the muscles that control eye movement, according to Genetics Home Reference.

But Daily Mail points out that while the technology offers hope to people suffering from limited mobility, it also raises question on technology being used for destruction if soldiers could control their surrogate version using their minds even if they are out of combat.

Even Arati Prabakhar, DARPA director, admitted at the Future of War forum organised by New American Foundation that “In doing that work, we can now see the future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body … We can only imagine amazing good things and amazing potentially bad things that are on the other side of that door,” quoted Smithsonian.com.

To contact the writer, email: v.hernandez@ibtimes.com.au