A 30-year old paraplegic (with both legs and arms being paralyzed) man called Thibault was able to make his first steps after a long time thanks to a “mind-reading” exoskeleton.
He was once an optician, but an incident of falling from a height of 15 meters led to the injury of his spinal cord. As a result of that, the man became paralyzed. In 2017 he already took part in testing the exoskeleton at Clinatec Biomedical Research Center that is based at the University of Grenoble.
According to Thibault, using the specially created suit felt like “being the first man on the Moon”. Walking in it is not perfect and easy, though, but such technologies can make a difference in the life of patients with similar disabilities in the future. Moreover, for now, the suit can only be worn within the lab.
In order to use the exoskeleton that can enable him to move, Thibault needed to have a surgery during which two implants were put into his brain, namely, into the motor region. Each implant consists of sixty-four electrodes that read one’s brainwaves and then pass them to the computer software. After that, the computer reads the brain activity and transfers this data to the exoskeleton itself in the form of instruction. The next step is to wear the “mind-reading” suit. As soon as the man thinks of taking a step, he activates the entire system, and the exoskeleton starts to move along with Thibault’s legs. The same principle applies to the arms.
Walking in this exoskeleton is rather tricky. The suit weighs 65 kilograms and is attached to a ceiling to prevent falling.
Although the development of such technologies sounds like a solution to problems of people with spinal cord injuries, the exoskeletons and stuff like that will never be available for most of the people because of a high price.