Researchers at UCLA are reporting on an amazing achievement of having a completely paralyzed man voluntarily walk using an exoskeleton coupled with a non-invasive spinal cord stimulator. We reported on the same research team earlier this year when it announced that its technology allowed five paralyzed men to move their legs. Though they were not walking, and could only move their legs when laying on a bed, the team decided to see whether combining this technology with an exoskeleton could produce real ambulatory motion.
The team employed an exoskeleton from EKSO Bionics that’s been used for a few years to rehab people with partial spinal cord injuries. The device can provide any amount of walking assistance necessary from step to step while monitoring how much effort the user is putting in. The non-invasive spinal cord stimulator was provided by NeuroRecovery Technologies, a firm founded by V. Reggie Edgerton, senior author of the study and UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology, neurobiology and neurosurgery.
Watch a few snippets of the first person outfitted with the new technology as he walks using the exoskeleton and moves his legs following a few therapy sessions: