Paralyzed Frenchman, 30-year-old Thibault thanks to the exoskeleton he was able to move each of his 4 limbs in an absolutely simple way for the first time in many years. The device connected to the motors that give movement to the skeleton (and limbs) can read human thoughts about just mobility. Analyzing them, it adapts to a specific movement creating an extremely precise mix of commands for the exoskeleton. The rest of the magic is already happening by itself: people who have ever dreamed about moving can feel like everyone else again. Thibault himself said he felt like "the first man on the moon." A very interesting and heartwarming comparison.
The exoskeleton can only be used in the laboratory – it is prohibited anywhere else. This is due to the fact that the calibration of the exoskeleton is not a simple matter and after all, Thibault's movements are far from the perfection presented by healthy people. If a participant in the experiment went out into the street and tried to test the machinery there, he could hurt himself or anyone else. Contrary to appearances, the used exoskeleton is quite heavy and really strong. Hitting anyone with a mechanical limb could end very badly.
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Before applying the exoskeleton, Thibault had to undergo a simple procedure of placing two implants directly on the brain: each containing a total of 64 electrodes that read his brain activity. Further, these signals are recognized by the algorithm and matched to specific movements.
Thibault is not able to set up an exoskeleton on its own – this is a difficult activity for an ordinary person, let alone for a disabled person. The participant of the experiment in the past had an accident that deprived him of the opportunity to practice: before him, the optician developed his career. As a result of a fall from 15 meters, he damaged his spinal cord on the thoracic segment. He spent two years in hospital and is actually completely paralyzed.
This is just the beginning and the results are already promising
Both scientists from Clinatec and Thibault are extremely pleased: the experiments admit that there are some disadvantages to the exoskeleton, but at the same time allow us to visualize specific opportunities associated with the use of this technology. Until now, exoskeletons have been thought mainly in the context of the army, very difficult and dangerous professions: wherever it is simply hard and mechanical support could be useful. However, people with disabilities can also use this potential – this is inevitable.
I will say more – I am very supportive of this project, the more that I have a deeply disabled person in my family (he was completely normal a year ago …). In this case, however, the nature of this disability is completely different and probably the exoskeleton would not help at all. But, this type of effort is pushing us all the time to solve still unsolvable problems.
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