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Academics are developing mind-controlled wheelchairs for tetraplegia

When it comes to advancements for people with neurological disorders and paralysis, brain-computer interface (BCI) projects from Neuralink and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPAs) Brain Initiative are promising, especially when it comes to mobility.

There are some major problems, however. Progress in this area is often slow, expensive, and generally fails to transition from a lab environment to the real world.

But that’s not to say there aren’t other organizations making huge strides in BCI technology for people with paralysis.

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This week saw one paper published by a German, Italian, Swiss and American academic team looking at exactly that. It shared a successful research project in which three participants with tetraplegic spinal cord injuries (paralyzed from the shoulders down) successfully operated an electric wheelchair using their minds. This included navigating, steering, turning and controlling the speed of the chair through an obstacle course in the hospital.

brain machine interface