A WOMAN who is paralysed from the neck down has been able to work a robotic arm using her thoughts alone, with a degree of agility closer than ever to a normal human limb.
Jan Scheuermann (52) was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder 13 years ago.
It is understood she smiled with joy after weeks of training enabled her to carry out simple tasks with her hand.
The training aimed at achieving skills in nine tasks, such as gripping and moving small objects, stacking cones and bumping a ball so that it rolled outside a loose coil of wire.
Experts say she has been able to operate the robotic arm with a level of control and fluidity never seen before in such technology.
Andrew Schwartz, professor of neurobiology at Pittsburgh University, told the Guardian newspaper: "We were blown away by how fast she was able to acquire her skill, that was completely unexpected.
"At the end of a good day, when she was making these beautiful movements, she was ecstatic."
It is being hailed as a remarkable step forward for prosthetics controlled directly by the brain. Other systems have already allowed paralysed patients to type or write in freehand simply by thinking about the letters they want.