Arm and finger paralysis, e.g. due to brain stem stroke, often results in the inability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating and drinking. Recently, it was shown that a hybrid electroencephalography/electrooculography (EEG/EOG) brain/neural hand exoskeleton can restore hand function to quadriplegics, but it was unknown whether such control paradigm can be also used for fluent, reliable and safe operation of a semi-autonomous whole-arm exoskeleton restoring ADLs. To test this, seven abled-bodied participants (seven right-handed males, mean age 30 ± 8 years) were instructed to use an EEG/EOG-controlled whole-arm exoskeleton attached to their right arm to perform a drinking task comprising multiple sub-tasks (reaching, grasping, drinking, moving back and releasing a cup). Fluent and reliable control was defined as average 'time to initialize' (TTI) execution of each sub-task below 3 s with successful initializations of at least 75% of sub-tasks within 5 s. During use of the system, no undesired side effects were reported. All participants were able to fluently and reliably control the vision-guided autonomous whole-arm exoskeleton (average TTI 2.12 ± 0.78 s across modalities with 75% successful initializations reached at 1.9 s for EOG and 4.1 s for EEG control) paving the way for restoring ADLs in severe arm and hand paralysis.
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