An electric wheelchair for people with tetraplegia, a condition when patients are unable to move their upper or lower body, was designed by an Egyptian researcher

By Abdelrahman Omran

Egyptian researcher Abdelrahman Omran designed a wheelchair for people with tetraplegia which operates by receiving users’ brainwaves. Reuters

An electric wheelchair for people with tetraplegia, a condition when patients are unable to move their upper or lower body, has been designed by an Egyptian researcher Abdelrahman Omran, reported Reuters.

The device will help those with paralysis by using head movements or brainwaves to operate the chair.

Who designed the wheelchair for tetraplegic patients

Omran speaking to the Reuters said, “Many people do not have control of their arms or legs, making them unable to control wheelchairs using a remote or joystick attached to it. So, the idea behind this chair is to help those with paralysis and make it easier for them to use electric wheelchairs without the need of an assistance.”

Omran’s project, which started in 2015, has been taken by the Arab Organization for Industrilization to help develop and prepare the wheelchair for mass production.

“Today we are almost ready to announce the end of the final production phase of the chair. Now we will start mass production. We will also start marketing. Hopefully it will cover many sectors here in Egypt, a very large number will be in need of this chair. We will also do marketing for export. Abdelrahman has great ambitions and ideas, and hopefully we will be able to use his talent and capabilities to keep up with technological advancements and implement them here,” said Ahmed Mohamed Ab, chairman of the electronics factory, Arab Organization for Industralization.

Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time a brain-computer interface has been used to control a robot.

In 2016, US scientists had developed a machine that enables people to navigate a robotic wheelchair through their thoughts.

The researchers at the Duke University used a computer to monitor brain signals from a rhesus macaque. They recorded signals from hundreds of neurons in two regions of the monkeys’ brains that were involved in movement and sensation.

During the experiments, as the animals thought about moving toward their goal, in this case, a bowl containing fresh grapes, computers translated their brain activity into real-time operation of a wheelchair.

“As the monkeys learned to control the wheelchair just by thinking, they became more efficient at navigating toward the grapes and completed the trials faster,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University.