A pioneering, brain-controlled exoskeleton allowed a man paralyzed from the shoulders down to walk again. The high-tech four-limb robotic exoskeleton responds to brain signals and translates them into movements.
Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton Helped A Paralyzed Man Walk
Scientists implanted sensors near the brain of the 28-year-old paralyzed man. These implants capture brain signals and transmit them to the exoskeleton that responds by moving the limbs according to them.
According to the lead researcher of the study published in The Lancet Neurology journal, this brain-controlled exoskeleton brings us one step closer to help paralyzed patients walk and use computers only with their brains.
“This is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed to activate all four limbs, said Alim-Louis Benabid, a researcher at the University of Grenoble, France, and a co-author of the study.
Benabid added that previous robotic systems had to use brain implants that could have been dangerous. Also, some other exoskeletons needed wire connections and faced difficulties in moving only one limb.
The New Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton Used Sensors Implanted Near The Brain
For this project, scientists implanted two recording sensors near the brain of the 28-year-old paralyzed man. They placed one sensor on each side of the patient’s head, between the brain and the skin, to capture signals from the sensorimotor cortex region that controls the motor function.
One sensor contains 64 electrodes that detect brain signals and transmit them to a decoding algorithm that then sends them to the exoskeleton. The brain-controlled exoskeleton translates signals into movements.
It took two years for the scientists and the paralyzed man to achieve the goals of the project. Over the last 24 months, the patient has conducted various tests to train the decoding algorithm and make it understand the man’s brain signals and translate them into movements.
While the new brain-controlled exoskeleton is significant progress in this field, we are still far from having an affordable robotic system available worldwide for paralyzed people.