A Mind controlled robotic exoskeleton lets paralysed man walk again

A mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton is being used to help a disabled man in France walk again. The remarkable creation reads the brain signals of 30-year-old Thibault, who became a tetraplegic in 2015, and converts them into movement.

Thibault, who suffered a 15m fall in an accident in a night club, said taking his first steps in the suit felt like being the ‘first man on the Moon’. The four-limbed robotic system controlled helped him move his arms and walk using a ceiling-mounted harness for balance.

The whole-body exoskeleton, which is part of a two-year trial by Clinatec and the University of Grenoble, is operated by recording and decoding brain signals. As part of the trial, Thibault had surgery to place two implants on the surface of the brain, covering the parts that control movement. Sixty-four electrodes on each implant read his brain activity and beam the instructions to a computer.

Software then reads the brainwaves and turns them into instructions to control the exoskeleton.

A previous patient recruited to the study had to be excluded because a technical problem prevented the brain implants communicating with the algorithm. Professor Alim-Louis Benabid of the University of Grenoble, said the exoskeleton used is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed for long term use to activate all four limbs.

Professsor Tom Shakespeare, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the exoskeleton is a long way from being a usable clinical possibility.(Metrouk)

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