It may sound like something from the future, but with drones, hoverboards, and the like, the future is now.
Soon, paralyzed individuals may find themselves able to walk out and about thanks to revolutionary robotic technology.
Working to re-wire the brains of paralyzed individuals, the robotic suit interacts with neural pathways in order to re-connect the brain and the body, made distant by a traumatic spinal cord injury.
As a result, individuals who have interacted with this suit over a year have seen partial recovery of motor activity, as well as sensation from below their spinal injury.
Dr. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina said:
“As you can imagine, this is for us a very important milestone. Nobody ever imagined that one day, we will be talking about the possibility of using brain-machine interface to induce partial neurological recovery in patients who have been diagnosed as having complete spinal cord injury.”
The basic idea is that in many cases of paralysis, some spinal nerves remain, and it is those nerves that the machine is tapping into. By stimulating these nerves, the connections are able to slowly return, giving partial recovery to a patient who was previously considered fully incapable of feeling or movement below the location of their spinal injury.
Though the science still has far to go, these promising glimmers of recovery are enough to spur additional research and introspection.
Watch this explanation of the science: