A MAN paralysed from the shoulders down has been able to walk using a pioneering fourlimbed robotic system, or exoskeleton, that is commanded and controlled by signals from his brain.
With a ceiling-mounted harness for balance, the 28-year-old tetraplegic patient used a system of sensors implanted near his brain to send messages to move all four of his paralysed limbs after a two-year-long trial of the whole-body exoskeleton.
The results, published in The Lancet Neurology journal, bring doctors a step closer to one day being able to help paralysed patients drive computers using brain signals alone, according to researchers who led the work.
But for now the exoskeleton is purely an experimental prototype and is “far from clinical application”, they added.
This is the first semi-invasive wireless braincomputer system designed to activate all four limbs. Previous brain-computer technologies have used invasive sensors implanted in the brain, which are more dangerous and often stop working.
In this trial, two recording devices were implanted, one on either side of the patient’s head between the brain and the skin.
Each recorder contained 64 electrodes, which collected brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm.
Over 24 months, the patient carried out various mental tasks to train the algorithm to understand his thoughts and to progressively increase the number of movements he could make.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 14 October 2019)
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