Using thought-guided robot arm paralyzed woman drinks coffee for the first time in 15 years

Scientists in the United States have enabled a paralyzed woman to lift a drink to her lips with a thought-controlled robotic arm, boosting hopes that tetraplegics may regain their independence. On April 12 last year, 58-year-old Cathy Hutchinson made history by using only her thoughts to get a robotic arm to grasp a flask of coffee on a table, lift it and hold it to her lips for a sip, the researchers said. Fourteen years earlier, a stroke had left her paralyzed and unable to speak, making her completely dependent on a caregiver.

“This was the first time in nearly 15 years that she has been able to pick up anything solely of her own volition—and the smile on her face when she did this was something that I, and I know our whole research team, will never forget,” neurologist Leigh Hochberg told a telephone press conference.

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