Patients who have lower limb paralysis and those who have suffered from a stroke get immense help from powered exoskeletons, as they can speed up their recovery and help them get back on their feet. These devices are boon to such patients no doubt, but when it comes to patients suffering from tetraplegia and other such conditions which make patients severely disables, powered exoskeletons fall short in aiding them in their condition.
Finally a breakthrough has been found thanks to a team of researchers based in France who have managed to develop a technology that has helped a paralyzed patient of two years to take autonomous steps using an exoskeleton. The person had an injured spinal cord that made him incapable of moving his arms or legs, however; the new technology’s experience made him feel like the first man on the moon, as reported by BBC. Notably, the great feat was achieved due to two brain implants and the decoding technology linked to them, apart from the obvious fine exoskeleton used.
On the surface of the patient’s brain, two WIMAGINE 64- channel electrocorticography implants were placed. Signals that originate from the brain’s movement centers were read by these implants which were further decoded. Finally the signals that were decoded were translated into the movements of the exoskeleton, thereby completing the entire process.
The process did require some training of the paralyzed man in the beginning. The training entailed using the brain- computer interface to control characters in a video game. This training helped him to control the motorized device; the exoskeleton that he was later put into. It was then observed that in comparison to the arms and hands, controlling and managing the leg movements was easier for the patient.
This is a breakthrough because it has proved great potential, even though it is simply a research project right now. Eventually through more research and work, a day will soon come when a severely paralyzed patient might be able to resume normal functioning of his or her limbs.
Dr.James Robinson, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine DescriptionThe Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is a private graduate medical school in Manhattan, New York City, where he serves as a founding co-Director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. He is a practising general internist and pharmacoepidemiologist and is internationally recognised for his research examining prescription drug utilisation. Dr.James Robinson is the author of over a hundred scientific articles and book chapters, is a frequent speaker on health care issues and has served on numerous editorial and advisory boards.
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