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Quadriplegic man walks using mind-reading robotic exoskeleton

Description

Thibault, who broke his neck in a fall four years ago, takes his first steps in the exoskeleton

Credits Fonds de Dotation Clinatec

Robo-suit hailed as huge step forward for paralysed patients

One-Minute Read James Ashford Friday, October 4, 2019 – 11:45am

A man paralysed from the neck down has been able to walk using a mind-reading exoskeleton suit.

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The 30-year-old Frenchman, identified in reports only as Thibault, said taking his first steps in the suit felt like being the “first man on the Moon”.

“I didnt walk for two years. I forgot what it is to stand, I forgot I was taller than a lot of people in the room,” he said.

Two electrodes were implanted on the underside of Thibaults skull before he was placed in the exoskeleton. These sensors “picked up his brain signals as he thought about moving his legs and beamed the information wirelessly to a computer in a backpack”, which then decoded the signals and passed the instruction on to the suit, says The Times.

The suit also allows Thibault, who broke his neck in a 15-metre fall from a roof four years ago, to move his arms and hands, says New Scientist. This was more challenging than learning how to walk, he said. “It was very difficult because it is a combination of multiple muscles and movements – this is the most impressive thing I do with the exoskeleton.”

His movements are not yet perfect, and the robo-suit is currently used only in a lab setting, where it is connected to a harness to minimise the risk of Thibault falling over, says the BBC.

Professor Alim-Louis Benabid, president of the Clinatec centre which carried out the trial in conjunction with the University of Grenoble, said that while the solution was still “far from autonomous walking”, it was a step in the right direction.

“We have solved the problem and shown the principle is correct. This is proof we can extend the mobility of patients in an exoskeleton,” he said. “This is in the direction of giving better quality of life.”

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Whats next?

The French scientists developing the exoskeleton technology say that as computer technology and artificial intelligence develop, more and more advaRead More – Source

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