Wireless System Helps Tetraplegic Man ‘Walk’

Photo Credit: Juliette Treillet, Fonds de dotation Clinatec

Health Editor’s Note: Tetraplegia is also known as quadriplegia which is paralysis of both legs and both arms. If someone is able to be mobile, instead of being relegated to spending his or her life in a wheel chair or bed, his or her health will improve, not to mention his or her quality of life…..Carol

First semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed for long-term use to activate all four limbs

by Judy George, Senior Staff Writer  MedPage Today

A tetraplegic patient was able to move all four of his paralyzed limbs with a wireless brain-machine interface system that recorded and decoded his brain signals, according to a proof-of-concept trial.

In an exploratory study, a 28-year-old man cortically controlled a program that simulated walking and made various multi-joint arm movements using a virtual avatar at home or an exoskeleton in the laboratory, reported Alim-Louis Benabid, MD, PhD, of the University of Grenoble and the Clinatec biomedical research center in France, and co-authors, in Lancet Neurology.

The system used an original approach that recorded neural signals at the surface of the cortex using a wireless implantable device, Guillaume Charvet, chief of the brain computer interface project at Clinatec, told MedPage Today. It is based on the idea that when people imagine making a movement, they trigger the same electrical activity in their motor cortex as when they actually perform that motion. The system recorded those signals, known as electrocorticograms, and decoded them to drive complex objects such as the limbs of an exoskeleton.

“Ours is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed for long-term use to activate all four limbs,” Benabid said in a statement.

“Previous brain-computer studies have used more invasive recording devices implanted beneath the outermost membrane of the brain, where they eventually stop working,” he added. “They have also been connected to wires, limited to creating movement in just one limb, or have focused on restoring movement to patients’ own muscles.”

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  1. There are promising technologies that could transform physically intensive labor, defense, physiotherapy recovery treatments and disabled patients like soft robotics, portable RADARs and LIDARs, advanced brain-computer interfaces, synthetic muscles, flexible batteries, powerful System-On-Chips, fuel cells powered by high density liquids, flexible solar panels and devices powered by body heat.
    Even controlling robots or exoskeletons inspired by biomimicry is easier now with the current machine learning and AI methods.