A man paralyzed from the waist down has regained some control and movement in his legs, thanks to a device that reads his brain.
It’s the first time in history a paraplegic patient, after suffering a spinal cord injury, has been able to walk again.
See his remarkable first steps below:
His brainwaves were interpreted by new computer technology, which then controlled the electrical stimulation of his leg muscles.
According to the study from the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, the man walked four assisted metres. The research is encouraging, though maintaining balance was an issue that needed to be addressed.
The brain-reading device acts as a ‘middle man’ between the brains and the legs. While a spinal cord injury stops the flow of messages from the brain, the brain can still create messages, and the legs are still capable of receiving them.
“We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury,” said Dr. An Do, one of the study’s researchers.
“This non-invasive system for leg muscle stimulation is a promising method and is an advance of our current brain-controlled systems that use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton.”
Dr Mark Bacon, from the charity Spinal Research, told the BBC there’s still a-ways to go, but it’s a start:
“What makes this interesting is the move out of the virtual realm by activating lower-limb muscles in a walking pattern. In that regard they have been successful. However, independent over-ground walking is still some way off, not least because the issue of maintaining balance hasn’t yet been addressed.”