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Paralyzed Man Walks With Mind-Controlled Exoskeleton

It might sound like a miracle, but it's actually technology: a man who was paralyzed four years ago was able to walk for the first time since then, with the help of an exoskeleton that can read his mind. 

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    A French man, Thibault, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down after falling 40 feet, has walked for the first time since his accident. Walking is impossible for tetraplegics, who cannot use any of their four limbs. This amazing feat of technology was achieved with the prototype developed by researchers, who published their findings in the Lancet Neurology journal, after a two year trial. 


  • photo showing where two receptors were placed inside tetreplegic person's brain
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    To achieve this seemingly impossible task, scientists implanted two recording devices inside Thibault's head, between the brain and skin, around two years ago. These read the sensorimotor cortex, which controls motor functions. Each decoder transmits brain signals, which are translated into the movements the patient has thought about. An algorithm then sends this physical command to the exoskeleton. 


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    Via Giphy

    To prepare for using the exoskeleton, Thibault had to train for months by controlling computer-simulated avatars with his mind, making them walk and use their arms and hands. This also helped the algorithm to understand the patient's brain signals, which increased the number of movements he could make with the exoskeleton. 




  • scientists strapping paralyzed man into exoskeleton to walk
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    While several studies that use exoskeletons have already enabled paralyzed patients to walk, they used implants in the patients' limbs. This study is the first one in history to read the brain signals of patients and carry out the commands. This kind of mind-reading technology could be transferred to mind-controlled wheelchairs and other mechanisms that could help paralyzed people. 

    While the scientists behind the research emphasize that this technology is nowhere near being publically used, Thibault said that it gives handicapped people hope. There's no denying that this advancement gives us big hopes for the future of this technology. 

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