A robot exoskeleton could enable people with walking disabilities to walk again. Patients who are paralyzed because of severe spinal injuries now have a chance to move their legs. This amazing accomplishment was possible by using a robotic exoskeleton connected to the patient’s brain. One of the patients was eventually capable of walking with the help of two crutches.
A team of experts started the “Walk Again Project” based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They believe it could enable people with walking disabilities to move again, by using an exoskeleton powered by their own brainwaves.
In a surprising twist of events, scientists discovered that eight of the patients started to take back control of their movement and the sense of touch, as some of the formerly paralyzed spinal nerves started to function again.
Although previously, experts believed that their nerves were completely severed, upon extensive training, patients were capable of using their spinal nerves to some success.
Now, scientists believe that some of the spinal nerves survived the accident and have been brought back by training, and in turn, It could have rewired the synapses in the brain.
Some patients with total paralysis achieved some walking. This was a great breakthrough for medical science, as Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, director of the Duke University in the US pointed out.
Scientists have never thought this kind of effect could be achievable and are now very happy with the results. They believe they’ve reached a key moment in helping paralyzed people.
Some of the training meant that patients used a virtual reality machine to control a computer avatar with their own thoughts. When they wanted to walk forward, the avatar would move forward.
After that, scientists used the same system integrated into an exoskeleton that patients could wear. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a young man previously paralyzed from the chest down kicked a football to start the tournament , using the above-mentioned brain interface and exoskeleton.
Researchers were happy to notice that after long term training, a partial recovery was triggered.
What’s your opinion on this article? Do you think we’ll ever see formerly paralyzed people walking again? Please leave a comment below.
Image Source – Wikipedia