A paralyzed man has been able to walk again thanks to a mind-controlled four-limb robotic suit, or exoskeleton.
The patient trained for months using brain signals to control a computer-simulated avatar before using the robotic device.
With the exoskeleton, he was able to move all four of his paralyzed limbs.
The results have been published in The Lancet Neurology journal and bring the medical world closer to helping paralyzed patients control computers using just their brain.
The patient involved in the tests, identified only as Thibault said the technology has given him a new lease of life. Doctors caution though that there are still several years’ worth of research and development before the device is available to the public.
"(This) is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed... to activate all four limbs," said Alim-Louis Benabid, a neurosurgeon and professor at the University of Grenoble, France, who co-led the trial.
Collecting and Translating Brain Signals
Previous brain-computer technologies have used invasive sensors planted into the brain. But in this trial, two recorders were planted either side of the head between the brain and skin. These read the sensorimotor cortex, which controls motor function.
Each recorder contained 64 electrodes that collected signals from the brain and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm to translate the signals into the movements the patient thought about.
To see the 28-year-old French patient walk by using brain signals to control the exoskeleton watch the video below.
For more details on the trial read the study in The Lancet Neurology.