Using A Robotic Suit Controlled By His Brain, A Paralyzed Man Was Able To Walk
A man in France who was paralyzed from the shoulders down after a 40-foot fall that severed his spinal cord was able to use all of his limbs with the help of a brain-controlled robotic suit, according to CNN.
The 28-year-old known as Thibault had enough movement in his biceps and left wrist to enable him to operate a wheelchair with a joystick, the news outlet reported.
Now, he can do much more.
“Researchers from the University of Grenoble in France, biomedical research center Clinatec and the CEA research center implanted recording devices on either side of Thibault's head,” CNN said, “between the brain and skin, to span the sensorimotor cortex -- the area of the brain that controls motor function and sensation.”
His brain signals are collected by an electric grid, which then transmits them to a decoding algorithm. From there, the signals are translated to movement commands that the robotic exoskeleton can execute.
Thibault spent two years training the algorithm to interpret his thoughts by using an avatar in a video game.
Now, he can use the exoskeleton to walk and reach for things with his arms.
"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," Thibault said.
The researchers believe this technology can eventually be used to improve countless individuals’ lives.
"Our findings could move us a step closer to helping tetraplegic patients to drive computers using brain signals alone, perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility," Professor Stephan Chabardes, a neurosurgeon from Grenoble University Hospital and author of the study, said in a press release.