The device helps patients with upper limb paralysis. (Credit: University of Melbourne)

A tiny device the size of a small paperclip has been shown to help patients with upper limb paralysis to text, e-mail, and even shop online in the first human trial. The device, Stentrode™, has been implanted successfully in two patients, who both suffer from severe paralysis due to motor neuron disease (MND) — also known amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — and neither had complete ability to move their upper limbs.

The fully implantable, wireless technology, which does not require open brain surgery, functions to restore freedoms for people with severe disability. The two patients used the Stentrode at home to control the computer-based operating system, in combination with an eye-tracker for cursor navigation. This meant they did not need a mouse or keyboard.

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