Erik Sorto, 34, has not been able to walk for the past 13 years, after being shot in the back at the age of 21. As such, he’s since lived as a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. But thanks to the power of medical technology, he is now able to control his robotic arm simply by thinking.
California native Sorto has benefited from a chip implanted into his posterior parietal cortex, which is responsible for relaying intent to move one’s body. The two implanted sensors track his brain activity and are able to recognize complex electrical signals, which then travel from his brain to a computer. This computer unscrambles the information and relays it to Sorto’s robotic arm. And the implant has been successful, as he was immediately able to shake hands on the first day, and even have the arm give him a beer.
“I joke around with the guys that I want to be able to drink my own beer – to be able to take a drink at my own pace, when I want to take a sip out of my beer and to not have to ask somebody to give it to me,” said Sorto in an interview. However, he wants to be able to do more with his robotic arm in the future. “I really miss that independence. I think that if it was safe enough, I would really enjoy grooming myself – shaving, brushing my own teeth,” he added. “That would be fantastic.”