A man who was paralysed because of an accident at a nightclub can now walk again, thanks to a brain-controlled exoskeleton. Scientists are calling the technology a 'breakthrough' for patients with such ailments.
The exoskeleton will help tetraplegics (people who have lost all movement in four limbs and a torso) regain movement. It was created by a team of researchers at the Hospital of Grenoble Alpes, with help from the biomedical firm Cinatech. It uses two recording devices that are placed on either side of the patient's head. They then record signals from the brain's sensorimotor cortex.
While the doctors say that the device is currently years away from a public launch, they also claim that it has the potential to improve the patients' quality of life and most importantly grant them the autonomy that comes with controlling your own movements.
This particular system was designed for a patient who only goes by the name Thibault. He trained his brain for months to control a computer-simulated avatar, which would help him perform basic movements. According to the press release, this system has given him "a new lease of life."
"When you're in my position when you can't do anything with your body... I wanted to do something with my brain. I can't go home tomorrow in my exoskeleton, but I've got to a point where I can walk. I walk when I want and I stop when I want," he stated.
He trained on a video-game system for the actual thing.
Alim-Louis Benabid, professor emeritus at Grenoble stated, "The brain is still capable of generating commands that would normally move the arms and legs, there's just nothing to carry them out."
Thibault, using the exoskeleton, can perform basic physical tasks such as walking and reaching out to touch objects.