A man paralysed from the chest down has been able to walk again thanks to a new brain-muscle interface device developed by scientists in California.
This was the case for a 26 year old American man, who has not walked since he sustained damage to his spinal cord at the level of his sixth thoracic vertebra, robbing him of the use of his legs and leaving him without sensation over the lower half of his body.
Now, he has been able to take steps independently again thanks to a first-of-a-kind device developed by University of California, Irvine engineer Zoran Nenadic and his collaborator neurologist An Do.
When these signature patterns are detected, the computer activates a muscle stimulator to deliver a pattern of electrical impulses to the leg muscles to trigger a pattern of walking movements.
This is in fact an aspect that Nenadic is working on now to provide the user with feedback so that they do not have to watch their feet constantly just to know where they are putting them.
The on-screen avatar was then scaled to a robotic leg on a treadmill, which the patient again learned to control by thinking in the right way. Finally, the computer was coupled to the muscle stimulator, which had the capacity to control the patient's own muscles, allowing him to voluntarily control his own lower limbs for the first time in many years.
This is completely bogus. We've been using electrical stimulation for walking in paraplegia since the '80s. It's pretty impractical walking, though, and so very few people use it. One of the problems is that the technology involved is too complicated. This idea just adds another huge layer of complexity for no useful gain. I really wish the media would not report stuff like this - it just gives people false hopes. Chris Kirtley, Mon, 28th Sep 2015
I don't agree. This work was published in a peer reviewed journal and, as such, has been scrutinised by experts in this field who felt that the study was worthy of publication.
Friends and colleagues have been working on this sort of thing for many years.