Remember the paralyzed man who kicked off the 2014 World Cup in Brazil while using an exoskeleton? That was possible thanks to the lab of Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D. at Duke University from where we now get even more exciting news. A small group of individuals paralyzed due to spinal cord injury have managed to regain some control, as well as feeling, of their legs. This was done without any invasive technologies, but essentially thanks to a combination of EEG brain-wave monitoring and virtual reality technology.
In a way, the system forces the brain to believe that the legs are alright, reading the intentions of the user through an EEG cap and simulating the corresponding leg movement in the virtual reality headset. This training took a couple of years and involved wearing the virtual reality headset while being suspended, walking with a walker, or using some other rehab method. As an example, here’s a short video of a woman paralyzed for over 13 years who has recovered some of her ability:
The researchers don’t have a full explanation for what is going on, but believe that though these patients were completely paralyzed they actually still had nerves that remained connected. These nerves had to become actively used again and the brain had to adjust to the new reality for these miraculous results to materialize.
Here’s Dr.Nicolelis describing his team’s research and showing off the results:
Check out more videos from the research….
Study in Scientific Reports: Long-Term Training with a Brain-Machine Interface-Based Gait Protocol Induces Partial Neurological Recovery in Paraplegic Patients…