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Jan Scheuermann Controls A Robotic Arm With Her Mind

A paralyzed woman has been given a second chance at mobility, by using a robotic arm that is controlled by her mind.


Jan Scheuermann, is a quadriplegic woman and has been participating in a study that allows her to control a robotic limb with her thoughts. It is reported that, at first she was only able to perform rudimentary movements, with a robotic arm, but after actively participating in the study for last two years, she is now able to manipulate both the hand and arm in 10 different ways. Over the last few years, Jan has acquired the capabilities of picking objects up, grasping and moving them, with precise accuracy. This breakthrough in technology has taken this woman from celebrating with ‘high-fives’ to ‘thumbs-up’,

The researchers involved in this study are hoping that this case will set an example to the world and will inspire other groups to take more interest in the development of robotic limbs. The group’s findings were originally published in the Journal of National Engineering, on December 17th.

Jan Scheuermann, 55 and a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been suffering from a form of quadriplegic paralysis for over 11 years; the ailment was induced from a neurodegenerative condition. In 2012 Scheuremann, was granted eligibility to participate in the study, then went under brain surgery to implant two quarter-inch electronic-grids; each grid was willed with 96 tiny contact points. The set of electrodes are what allow her to operate the robotic arm.

After the operation, Jan’s brain, was connected to a computer through the 96 contact points, this created a Brain Machine Interface, that picked up on the electric pulses fired between the neurons in her brain.

This information is then sent through the computer to be decoded and crate algorithm, to identify patterns associated with a particular arm movement.

After two years of intense therapy and observation the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, have stated that, Jan can now not only move the robotic arm by her thoughts alone, but manipulate the hand in several different directions.

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