Paralysed Man Uses Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton To Walk Again

Paralysed Man Uses Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton To Walk Again. A man from France who paralysed in an accident from a night club got the opportunity to walk agaid due to a brain-controlled exoskeleton.

A man from France who paralysed in an accident from a night club got the opportunity to walk agaid due to a brain-controlled exoskeleton. Researchers say it’s a breakthrough to giving hope to tetraplegic people that they may gain movement again. The 28-year-old man practiced for months, working on his brain signals to control a computer simulated avatar to do normal movements before using the robot to move.

The doctors who worked on the trial warned that the device is years away from being a device that can be consumed by the public. However, they emphasised that the device has the capability to “improve patients’ quality of life and autonomy.” The 28-year-old man from Lyon says the device has given him another chance at life. The man’s life was changed four years ago when he fell 12 metres from a balcony while he went out, which severely injured his spinal cord which had him paralysed from the shoulders downwards.

He says he wanted to do something with his brain since he can’t do anything with his body. “When you’re in my position, when you can’t do anything with your body…I wanted to do something with my brain,” the 28-year-old man told AFP on Thursday. He practiced on a video-game type of avatar system for months on end in order to get the skills required to function the exoskeleton, he said that he had to learn normal from movements from the beginning. Alim-Louis Benabid, professor emeritus at Grenoble and the guiding author of the study that was publishe on Friday in “The Lancet Neurology, says, “The brain is still capable of generating commands that would normally move the arms and legs, there’s just nothing to carry them out.”

A team of specialists from the hospital of Grenoble Alpes, biomedical firm Cinatech and the CEA research centre began by putting two recording devices on both sides of the 28-year-old man’s head, between the skin and the brain. The devices looked at his sensorimotor cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls movement. The devices each transfer brain signals which are looked at as an algorithm into movements the patient has thought about. The system sends physical commands that robot device implements. The man used the avatar to do movements such as walking and reaching to grab objects. The study is the first study to have used brain signals to control a robot exoskeleton.

The specialists say that the device could guide to brain-controlled wheelchairs for paralysed people. “This isn’t about turning man into machine but about responding to a medical problem. We’re talking about ‘repaired man’, not ‘augmented man’,” says Alim-Louis Benabid. The 28-year-old Lyon man says that the trial gave a message of hope to paralysed people. “This is possible, even with our handicap,” says the 28-year-old man.

by Alexandra Ramaite

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