A man with the paralysis of the lower body has regained the power to walk after his brain signals were transmitted artificially to the receptor neurons of his legs.
The 26-year-old American, who picked up a spinal cord injury (SCI) in a motorbike accident about five years ago, managed to walk some 3.66 meters, after making 39 unsuccessful attempts, making the endeavor the first walk without the help of manually operated robotic limbs, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
Neurosurgeons from the University of California first gave him mental training to reactivate his brain’s capability to walk. As a part of this training, he had to play a video game and use his thoughts to control the movements of the character on the screen. To do this, he wore a cap with electrodes that connect his brain’s signals to the computer.
He also underwent extensive physiotherapy to wake up and strengthen his long-dormant leg muscles.
“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 of our current brain-controlled systems that use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton,” said Dr. An Do, a spinal injury specialist at the University of California in Irvine who co-led the study.
Even after years of paralysis, the brain can still produce robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking, he further said, adding that the study revealed that a paralyzed patient, even a waist-down one, can restore intuitive and brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury.
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