Paralysed Man Moves Arm Using Power of Thought in World First

Paralysed Man Moves Arm Using Power of Thought in World First

Published By: The Guardian, 3/29/2017

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Lead author Dr. Bolu Ajiboye and a team at Case Western Reserve University developed an experimental procedure that re-enables motor function in a paralyzed patient’s arm. This procedure translates activity in the patient’s motor cortex into a signal that activates the arm muscles to perform the desired action, with help from a prosthetic. The research is still in the developmental phase, but they hope it can become a normal procedure to help people with paralysis.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 12

Extended Discussion Questions

  • When the research is complete and this procedure is available to the public, what are some of the positive impacts it could have for treating disabilities?
    • Besides paralysis, can you think of other conditions that could be helped by a system like this? (Examples to start: Tremors,  Parkinson’s disease…)
  • Imagine researchers enhanced a similar system so that it gave people superhuman reflexes.
    • Would you want to have technology in your body that could do that? Why or why not?
    • Would you want other people to have it? Why or why not?
  • The system includes a mechanical component to help the patient lift their arm (see video), also controlled by the motor cortex. What are some ways that mechanical systems like that (including brain-controlled prosthetic limbs) could be used to give people new abilities that other people don’t have?
    • What would be some advantages of such systems?
    • What could be some potential drawbacks or dangers?
  • The article mentions that one of the next steps is to make the technology wireless. What additional concerns might the researchers need to address in developing a wireless version? (Prompt: Would a wireless version be more vulnerable to hacking…?)

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
  • LO 7.2.1 Explain how computing has impacted innovations in other fields.
  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1J Sensor networks facilitate new ways of interacting with the environment and with physical systems.
  • EK 7.1.1L Computing contributes to many assistive technologies that enhance human capabilities.
  • EK 7.3.1A Innovations enabled by computing raise legal and ethical concerns.
  • EK 7.3.1G Privacy and security concerns arise in the development and use of computational systems and artifacts.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 2 Abstraction

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.


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