Paralyzed Man Walks in Second Life

And happily, no one was on hand to grief it. A 41-year-old Japanese man who suffers from a progressive muscle disease that has left him almost totally paralyzed, moved his Second Life character about a virtual environment using his brain waves, reports Agence France-Presse.

The experiment is significant because the signals his brain sent to move the character came from the man imagining that he was walking. He also used a microphone to meet and converse with another Second Lifer. Then a swarm of flying penises surrounded him and the appalled researchers. OK, just kidding about that.

Researchers are studying a system that would let people select letters for a text message using the same type of brainwave controls. They surmise that, in the future, paralysis patients could use virtual worlds as a surrogate interaction with the real world - for example walking through a virtual mall and making purchases the same way one would in real life.

The research may also deliver mental health benefits as well as physical ones. Researchers hope that the activity will motivate and inspire people who are otherwise too depressed to attempt rehabilitative exercises they consider futile.

Paralysed Man Takes a Walk in Virtual World [AFP via Yahoo! News] [picture]