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Paralysed man lifts first beer in a decade

By Lia Sanders on 27/05/15 11:00 AM

A paralysed man has lifted his first beer in 13 years by moving a robotic arm with his mind.

Erik Sorto, a 34-year-old American man, has been unable to move his arms or legs since he was shot in the neck when he was 21.

After volunteering for a neuroscience research programme in 2013, he became the first person in the world to get a neuro-prosthetic device implanted in a part of the brain which is responsible for controlling intentions.

Just through thinking about it, Sorto is able to control a robotic arm to drink from a bottle using a straw, play “rock, paper, scissors” and do a smooth handshake motion.

“I wanted to just run around and high-five everybody,” said Sorto after a successful lab trial of the arm (see below for video).

Richard Andersen, who led the trial at California Institute of Technology, said: “When you move your arm, you really don’t think about which muscles to activate and the details of the movement.

“Instead, you think about the goal of the movement, for example, ‘I want to pick up that cup of water.’”

By thinking about the person’s intention, scientists were able to create this technology which would help them fulfill it.