Paraplegic Man Walks On His Own Legs Again

posted: 10/05/15
by: TLCme
paraplegic man walks

Science is pretty amazing! Doctors at the University of California-Irvine have managed to help a paraplegic man walk again.

The man, whom remains unnamed, was originally left unable to walk after a spinal cord injury. Doctors working at UC-Irvine found, though, that fitting the man with an electrode cap that could send the brain direct messages to sit, stand, and walk, actually enabled the man to move again.

How exactly does it work? Well, the brain is pretty nimble, apparently. The brain can still generate robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking," even after a major injury, explained Dr. An Do to the Guardian.

Researchers first had the man practice how to use his brain power on an avatar. He then moved on to an avatar in a virtual environment before transferring his knowledge to his actual body. Doctors at first had him walk on a suspended track, to minimize the risk of him actually damaging his body, before they let him try walking on his own.

Here's how Do explained how the transformation worked: "It's not so much that he's thinking 'move the right leg and than move the left leg'," he said. "What happens is that the computer system detects when the brain waves change from a state of not walking into a state of walking."

Eventually they hope to make an easy implant so that other paraplegics can benefit from the technology, but they're not there yet. "We hope that an implant could achieve an even greater level of prosthesis control, because brain waves are recorded with higher quality," explained Zoran Nenadic, a colleague of Do's. "In addition, such an implant could deliver sensation back to the brain, enabling the user to feel their legs."