Paralyzed man hails ‘feat’ of walking again with robot exoskeleton

by ace

The pioneering four-limb robotic system, or exoskeleton, that is commanded and controlled by the patient's brain signals is seen after a news conference after Thibault, a 28-year-old man, paralyzed from the shoulders down, was able to walk using him on the French Clinatec research center in Grenoble, France, 7 October 2019. REUTERS / Emmanuel Foudrot

GRENOBLE, France (Reuters) – The French quadriplegic man who was able to walk again using a pioneering four-limbed robotic system, or exoskeleton, said walking was an important feat for him after being motionless for years.

The French scientists behind the system, released publicly last week, use a sensor system implanted near the brain that sends signals to the robotic system, moving the patient's legs and arms.

In a press interview on Monday in the French city of Grenoble, the 30-year-old patient, identified only by his first name, Thibault, said he had to retrain his brain when he began to experience the whole. exoskeleton of the body.

"Since I haven't moved in two years, I had to relearn how to use my brain," he said.

“In the beginning, walking was very difficult. Now I can stand for two hours in the exoskeleton and ride a bike for a long time, ”he said as well. "This is a feat for me."

In a two-year study, two recording devices were implanted, one on either side of Thibault's head between the brain and skin, covering the region of the brain that controls sensation and motor function.

Each recorder contained 64 electrodes that collected brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm. The system translated the brain signals into the movements in which the patient thought and sent his commands to the exoskeleton.

For 24 months, the patient performed various mental tasks to train the algorithm to understand his thoughts and progressively increase the number of movements he could make. For now, the exoskeleton is purely an experimental prototype.

(This story corrects the age from 30 to 28 in the third paragraph.)

Reporting by Noemie Olive; Written by Matthieu Protard Editing by Christian Lowe

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