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

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

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 sure is fun to gawk!
Podcasts

E-Scooters - Pros, Cons, and where they're headed.

On today's podcast: Very few things in the world of tech have garnered such polarizing opinions, as the rise of E-Scooters. We'll discuss the pros, the cons, and what needs to happen going forward.
Computing

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Emerging Tech

Caltech’s bird-inspired robot uses thrusters to help stay on its feet

Researchers from Caltech have developed a new bird-inspired robot that uses thrusters on its torso to help it to walk with more stability. Here's why that challenge is so important.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Product Review

Yuneec’s Mantis Q will make you wish you bought a DJI drone

Yuneec’s high-end drones are arguably the ones to beat in terms of flight control, design, and their photographic capabilities. But the company has struggled to make a low-end drone that’s worth buying, and the Mantis Q is proof of that…
Emerging Tech

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

Airbus announced this week that it will stop building the world's biggest passenger plane in 2021. The maker of the double-decker A380 said a changing market and lack of orders gave it little choice but to end production.
Emerging Tech

Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

A vape pen battery caused a fire in an overhead bin on a SkyWest Airlines flight on Wednesday. It's the latest in a string of incidents where faulty or poorly made lithium-ion batteries have caused gadgets to catch fire.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.