An unidentified 26 year old man who was left paralysed after an accident that broke his spinal cord and blocked nerve impulses between his brain and legs and was told he would never walk again has done just that thanks to some device that sends electrical activity from his brain to his knees.
In the breakthrough experiment, the man was first fitted with a cap that monitors electrical signals around the brain and then converts them into computer-controlled electroencephalogram. These signals are then sent to an electrode in the man’s knees that receive this signals and carry out their actions.
In the video below you can see the man walk 3.66 metres with the help of a body sling to support his weight. He had to build up to this with virtual reality training and supported walking as it had been so long since he had done anything like that, but it’s still incredible he managed to get there. It’s the first time that a person with spinal cord paraplegia has managed to walk of their own free will. Amazing.
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Zoran Nenadic of the University of California, Irvine had the following to say about it:
We have demonstrated that a person with paraplegia, or the inability to walk, due to spinal cord injury was able to walk over-ground by utilizing a brain-controlled, leg-muscle stimulator system.
This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that it is possible to reconnect the brain and the muscle through a technology that bypasses the spinal cord injury.
It also shows that the brain signals that underlie the intentions to walk are still present in individuals years after an injury.
This is a major major breakthrough and will hopefully improve the quality of life for a lot of people out there who have been unfortunately affected through no fault of their own.
We just have to hope that the technology isn’t insanely overpriced and that the prick who increased the price of an AIDS drug by 5000% overnight earlier this week isn’t involved.