Paralyzed man walks unassisted using only brain control — no exoskeleton required

brain control only walking eeg recording cap
CreativeCommons
A 26-year-old man who has been paralyzed for five years was able to walk on his own again. How? By using his brain waves to directly control the muscles in his legs. The patient was able to walk a distance of approximately 12-feet using only a harness to help support his weight. No exoskeleton or other assistive device was required for this ambulation, which was published recently in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.

The brain-control system was created by a team of researchers at the University of California Irvine under the leadership of Dr. An Do, an assistant professor of neurology. The system required the patient to wear an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap that relayed electrical signals from the participant’s brain to electrodes attached to the muscles surrounding the knees. As the participant thought about walking, he produced brain waves strong enough to elicit a response in his legs.

paralyzed-walk-brain-UC-IrvineB

Prior to the experiment, the patient had to train his brain to control his legs by practicing with an avatar in a virtual reality environment. He also had to strengthen his leg muscles to support his weight and condition them for walking. During the post-training trials, the patent walked 3.66 meters using only a walker to maintain his balance and a harness to offset some of his weight.

Using the brain to control paralyzed limbs has been used previously and is an established procedure. In earlier experiments, researchers have used similar brain control systems to move limb prostheses and, more recently, restore walking with the aid of an exoskeleton. This experiment further refines the brain-control system, allowing a patient to operate his or her legs with little to no outside assistance. “We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury,” said Do. It follows a similar experiment by UCLA scientists in which a volunteer used brain control to power his leg muscles while using an exoskeleton for support.

Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Everything we know about the PlayStation 5, including PlayStation VR plans

PlayStation 5 rumors have circulated for over a year, but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

Project xCloud vs. GeForce Now: Which will be PC gamers' favorite choice?

Game streaming services are going to be all the rage over the next few years. Two of the biggest are Nvidia GeForce Now and Project xCloud. Here is what you need to know about the services and how they operate.
Product Review

The segment-bending 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an SUV in a track suit

For the 2020 model year, Porsche is expanding the third-generation Cayenne lineup with a more stylish Coupe-badged model. It's lower than a regular Cayenne, a little bit wider, and it wears a more muscular design.
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Emerging Tech

What would it take to build a Matrix-level simulation of reality?

What would it take, technologically speaking, to build a real version of the Matrix? We definitely don't have the technical abilities to do that now, but we're rapidly approaching the point that we will. In this article, MIT computer…
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.
Emerging Tech

Whose name should we etch on the Mars 2020 rover? NASA wants a vote

Dream of making it to Mars? NASA has opened up a new public outreach program to let people send their names to the Red Planet, as an engraving on a silicon chip launched with the Mars 2020 rover.
Emerging Tech

Watch live as SpaceX tries, for the third time, to launch 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX is having another go at launching the first 60 satellites for its ultra-ambitious Starlink internet constellation. Here's how you can tune in live to watch it all go down today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX joins internet-from-space race with launch of 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying its first batch of Starlink satellites for its ambitious internet-from-space project. The payload, SpaceX's heaviest to date, successfully deployed an hour after liftoff.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Emerging Tech

This plane-pulling robo-dog makes Boston Dynamics’ Spot look scrawny

A robot dog created by researchers at Italy’s Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia showed off its impressive ability to pull a three-ton airplane down a runway. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

Scientists discover unexpected underwater volcano off the coast of Africa

Geologists first noticed something unusual in the Indian Ocean in November last year, when they detected a massive seismic event. Now further research has revealed that the source of the seismic activity is an enormous underwater volcano.