Technology: A mind-controlled exoskeleton helped a paralyzed man walk again - This exoskeleton connected to the brain allowed a quadriplegic to walk - PressFrom - US

Technology A mind-controlled exoskeleton helped a paralyzed man walk again

21:30  04 october  2019
21:30  04 october  2019 Source:

This hip-hugging exosuit uses AI to make walking and running easier

This hip-hugging exosuit uses AI to make walking and running easier Robotic devices have been used to help people walk or run in rehabilitation settings, but until now, they've been tethered and limited to a single action, like walking or running. In a paper published in Science today, a team of researchers explain how they're going to change that. The researchers -- from Harvard University and the University of Nebraska Omaha -- have developed a portable exosuit that uses AI to assist users with both walking and running. The robotic exosuit is part of DARPA's former Warrior Web program and has been years in the making. Worn at the waist and thighs, it's designed to work with the wearer's gluteal muscles by adding torque to the hip joint.

A paralyzed man regained the ability to walk with the help of a robotic exoskeleton that he controlled with his mind. Unlike other, more invasive mind-controlled robotics, this one used electrodes implanted above the brain's outer membrane, not in the brain itself. That could reduce the risk of infection and other obstacles that have limited the success of mind-controlled robotics.

a person wearing a costume

As part of a study with the University of Grenoble Alpes in France, the patient, who goes by Thibault, agreed to have two five-centimeter discs of his skull replaced with brain sensors, each with 64 electrodes. The researchers mapped Thibault's brain to determine which areas become active when he thinks about walking or moving his arms and used those maps to train the system. Thibault first practice by imagining walking and moving an avatar on a computer screen. He was then strapped to the 65 kg exoskeleton suit and successfully used it to walk.

These robo-shorts are the precursor to a true soft exoskeleton

These robo-shorts are the precursor to a true soft exoskeleton When someone says "robotic exoskeleton," the power loaders from Aliens are what come to mind for most people (or at least me), but the real things will be much different: softer, smarter, and used for much more ordinary tasks. The latest such exo from Harvard is so low-profile you could wear it around the house. Designed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute (in collaboration with several other institutions), which focuses on soft robotics and bio-inspired mechanisms, the exosuit isn't for heavy lifting or combating xenomorphs but simply walking and running a little bit more easily.

The system isn't perfect yet. It still requires overhead support to keep the user from falling, but because the electrodes are not implanted directly in the brain, they have a reduced risk of brain infection. Previous experiments, which placed the electrodes in the brain, stopped working when cells built up around the electrodes. Researchers don't expect that to happen with these, and Thibault's electrodes are still working after 27 months. With some fine tuning, the researchers say this system could improve patients' quality of life, and with shrinking tech like we've seen in other exosuits, it could eventually be less cumbersome.

The Lancet Neurology

Shaquille O'Neal donates home to family of Atlanta boy paralyzed in shooting .
Shaquille O'Neal heard Isaiah Payton couldn't go home after he was paralyzed from the chest down. So Shaq donated an accessible house to his family.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 1
This is interesting!