SEP 24, 2015 8:00 AM PDT

Paralyzed Man Walks Again Thanks to Technology

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

There have been many instances where technology has been able to be paired with the human brain to produce extraordinary behavior. Scientists are learning to capture brain waves, which are what our brain produce when we want to do something. By capturing these waves with an electroencephalogram (EEG), we can command technology that has been wired and tuned to listen for and comprehend those waves.
 
One such incident that occurred recently was when a paralyzed man was able to control a robotic arm with his brain to enjoy a drink; but now another man, a 26-year-old paraplegic by the name of Adam Fritz, is walking again for the first time in 5 years thanks to this brain-to-computer technology.
 


After a motorcycle accident that damaged his spinal cord and paralyzed him, Fritz is using this brain-to-computer technology to completely bypass his spinal cord and send commands with his brain directly to a set of mechanical legs with a computer. The computer is able to tell when his brain intends to walk, and can act accordingly by moving the legs as the brain intends.
 
The computer moves the mechanical legs with electrodes that are attached to Fritz’s knees, which contract the muscles necessary to move the mechanical legs each time a signal is sent from the brain. The contractions are much like what would happen normally from someone that is walking with their natural legs.
 
As you can imagine, since this is the first time Fritz has ever done this, the walking is a bit choppy. It’s a skill that needs to be mastered over time, and moreover, the technology is also in its early stages and will improve over time. Nonetheless, Fritz was able to complete a 3.5-meter course with the technology.
 
“Even after years of paralysis, the brain can still generate robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking,” the University of California’s Dr An Do said in a statement “We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury. This non-invasive system for leg muscle stimulation is a promising method and is an advance on our current brain-controlled systems, which use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton.”

To help him, he is supported by a harness connected to the ceiling so that should the technology fail, he will not be injured further, and it also helps guide him through the learning process. The harness takes some of his weight, and the legs do the rest. Doctors also accompany him in the room to monitor the actions of the computer, and ensure he is safe.


 
As of right now, this is still only a proof of concept, but the advances in technology prove that there is be a light at the end of the tunnel for paraplegics that want to be able to walk again. This is a beautiful example of how science and technology can work together in order to make human lives better.

Source: The Guardian

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 15, 2020
ExoMars Rover Launch Delayed Until 2022
2020 was expected to play host to a plethora of Martian missions, including the United States’ Mars 2020 rover, wh ...
MAR 17, 2020
Technology
MAR 17, 2020
Flat-Panel Technology
Scientists are looking to reinvent mirrors! At least according to research being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory, ...
MAR 20, 2020
Technology
MAR 20, 2020
Control Release Technology for Medically Favorable Gases
Researchers have recently developed solid material that can control the release of physiologically favorable gases. The ...
APR 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 27, 2020
Hubble Snaps Gorgeous Photo for 30th Anniversary
The Hubble Space Telescope surpassed its 30th year in space on Friday, April 24th. Being that it’s one of the most ...
MAY 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 14, 2020
New Tech Has Its AI on Brain Tumors
  A collaboration across 29 research and healthcare agencies is putting together the world’s largest brain tu ...
MAY 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 27, 2020
Unfavorable Weather Delays SpaceX's Historic Crewed American Launch
After officially receiving the green light from NASA to move forward with the first crewed space launch from American so ...
Loading Comments...