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Paralyzed Woman Translates Her Thoughts Into Abstract Paintings

Paralyzed Woman Translates Her Thoughts Into Abstract Paintings

Heide Pfutzner teamed up with scientists to pursue her creative desires.

Leah Gonzalez

Heide Pfutzner, a former teacher from Germany, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2007 and became paralyzed. She can only communicate through eye contact and a computer box. Through the Brain-Computer Interface or BCI program at the University of Wurzburg, she has been able to create abstract paintings using her mind.


BCIs basically take brain waves and translate them into commands. The BCI program at the university developed a brain-painting program that allows Pfutzner to use her thoughts to select which shapes, colors and brushes to use in creating digital paintings.

Pfutzner’s family and supporters have created a StartNext project to raise funds for an exhibition of her artwork in Scotland.

Researchers have been looking into the uses of BCI especially in rehabilitation and improving the lives of disabled persons.


Heide Pfutzner // University of Wurzburg

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