In California, a paralyzed man took a small step that will be great for mankind. In a world’s first, researchers at the University of California, Irvine are reporting that a completely paralyzed man was able to walk thanks to a brain-computer interface linked to electrical muscle stimulators placed over the leg muscles. The technology effectively bypasses the injured spinal cord and does so without any invasive procedures, relying on traditional electroencephalography (EEG) and commonly used stick-on electrodes.
The man has been paralyzed for five years due to a complete spinal cord transection, but was still able to generate the signature brainwaves that were used to trigger the muscle stimulators. This required quite a bit of mental training and special rehabilitation, but with assistance from a sling and a stroller helping to bear his weight, the man walked twelve feet (~4 meters) down a straight line.
This is certainly an amazing achievement that brings real hope to people with spinal cord injuries. Plus, considering this is only the first proof-of-concept trial of the technology, there’s potential for it to be considerably more effective than what was accomplished so far.
Here’s video of the paralyzed man taking first historic steps:
Study in Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation: The feasibility of a brain-computer interface functional electrical stimulation system for the restoration of overground walking after paraplegia…