Brain-Controlled Exoskeletons Set to Help Paraplegics Walk

Bipedal robots have, for a long time, been struggling to walk like human beings and they have tried balancing and moving forward without falling. It has taken several years of hard work; and now the robots are starting to get comfortable with the art of walking. Their walking technique is putting them in a position of helping persons in need.

How robotic-assisted mobility works

Roboticists have launched an initiative called Robotic-Assisted Mobility Science (“RoAMS”). RoAMS is using the latest research in robotic walking in creating a new kind of medical exoskeleton. These exoskeletons can move actively using neurocontrol interfaces. The exoskeletons will also allow users to balance and walk without using the crutches necessary with existing medical exoskeletons.

However, the only way to get these exoskeletons to help people do their daily duties is through dynamic locomotion. The exoskeletons will be deployed into people’s homes to assist users in making even sandwiches and serve them. To get these bipedal exoskeletons to work with human beings is a great challenge because of the biological systems which present a lot of unknowns. A lot of research is still needed to make humans to interface with these devices successfully.

Factors such as versatility, cost, durability, and patient’s desire to use these devices with precision are other challenges that the developers are facing. However, research is still ongoing to develop an exoskeleton that can provide a good balance to people with paraplegia.

Other potential devices to help patients walk

Caltech, an exoskeleton tech firm, is also trying to develop a spinal stimulator that may help in bypassing spinal injuries. The stimulator provides an artificial connection between the muscles of the legs and the brain. RoAMS will also try borrowing this technology in exploiting the user’s muscles and nerves to assist in the control and movement of the exoskeleton even for people with total paraplegia.

Muscle and nerve coordination with motion can help people undergoing physical rehabilitation for spinal injuries or stroke. It can be very beneficial, especially when it involves walking with the exoskeleton’s assistance and support. Furthermore, it can consequently improve recovery even if the exoskeleton does most of the work.

Clinical trials and approval of the exoskeletons

Caltech is also working closely with Wandercraft, a firm in Europe, to move their research to clinical settings. An exoskeleton developed by Wandercraft has already received approval in Europe and is in use. It has already helped more than 20 paraplegics to walk.

The RoAMS initiative is planning to concentrate on directly coupling a spine interface or brain with the Wandercraft exoskeleton. The intention is to achieve a steady and active walking exoskeleton with integrated neurocontrol, which has never been developed before.

Most of these exoskeletons are designed to meet specific challenges. Cost and complexity will be the greatest challenges that make them impractical for patients with disabilities to use them since motorized wheelchairs can comfortably fulfill most of those functions. However, the RoAMS technology is trying to bring innovations to everyone in need of it, giving options where a walker or a wheelchair cannot be an option. Experts say that entities like Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) hope that these advanced mobility products become widely available since they can be a huge help to the people lots of biomedical companies are trying to help.

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