Artificial intelligence is helping stroke patients to walk again

From robot exoskeletons to smart staircases, technology is making great advances in helping people with reduced mobility to get moving. The latest exciting piece of research in this vein is a project carried out by researchers in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Using cutting-edge artificial intelligence software and a robotic harness, they’ve developed smart assistive technology that’s designed to help stroke and spinal cord injury patients to walk again.

“We have developed an adaptive algorithm that personalizes a robotic harness to enable and train locomotion in people with spinal cord injury or stroke,” Jean-Baptiste Mignardot, a researcher at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, told Digital Trends. “We then demonstrated its efficacy to enable natural walking in non-ambulatory individuals, and to enhance skilled locomotor control in the less-impaired subjects.”

Rehab programs have long since involved asking patients to walk on treadmills, while they are held upright by a harness. What this new technology improves on is the use of AI and robotics to help simulate the forces people will encounter in various real-world situations — whether this be walking along a straight path, on a wavy path, or across irregularly positioned rungs on a downward-facing ladder.

ai stroke patients walk again fullsizerender 23

“We implemented an algorithm that can predict the optimal upward and forward support given by the robotic harness,” Mignardot continued. “The optimal upward is determined by an artificial neural network which integers kinematic and kinetic data from the patient. Then the algorithm combines the optimal upward support with the preferred speed of the patient — or the speed chosen by the physical therapist — to determine the optimal forward support.”

It’s even possible to set the system to imitate different gravitational pulls, so that users can see what it would be like to walk on other planets!

In trials, the technology was shown to work impressively well. For example, after using the AI-assisted robot harness, three patients with spinal cord injuries were able to walk independently — despite not previously being able to stand. Much the same proved true for stroke patients. A paper describing the research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Until now, the general guidelines on the use of bodyweight support system in rehabilitation field advises to stay below 30 to 40 percent of body weight,” Mignardot said. “Here we showed that, with an appropriate forward component, the full range of body weight support can be applied without restriction.”

Going forward, the plan is for the technology to be commercialized for use in rehabilitation centers as part of the clinical routine.

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Podcasts

The Technology of Marijuana

Mobile technology is finally advancing out of the standard form we've become used to. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is one example of further innovation and possibly a redesign of how we communicate and interact with our devices. Will 5G…
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Emerging Tech

Happy birthday, Hubble! Telescope celebrates with image of Southern Crab Nebula

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit, where it has remained for nearly three decades collecting information about deep space. To celebrate its birthday, Hubble imaged the beautiful Southern Crab Nebula.
Emerging Tech

Star gives off superflare equal to 80 billion megatonnes of TNT. That’s a lot

A tiny star the size of Jupiter has been observed giving off a massive superflare 10 times more powerful than any flare from our Sun. The findings are raising questions about how much energy small stars can hold.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?