A man paralysed from the shoulders down as a result of a spinal cord injury has walked again thanks to pioneering new exoskeleton technology.
The report, first published in The Guardian, reveals how 28-year-old Thibault, from Lyon, France, has used a brain-controlled full body exoskeleton to regain movement.
According to researchers, Thibault was trained over several months to “harness his brain signals” to control a digitally simulated avatar, before moving to the physical world to take his first steps after injury.
The technology has made the impossible possible for Thibault, who thought he would never walk again after suffering a life-changing spinal injury. Falling from a 40ft balcony, the Frenchman severed his spinal cord from the shoulders down, leaving him without the use of his legs and arms.
However, he said the exoskeleton has given him a “new lease of life”.
“When you are in my position, when you can’t do anything with your body … I wanted to do something with my brain,” Thibault told The Guardian.
“I can’t go home tomorrow in my exoskeleton but I’ve got to a point where I can walk. I walk when I want and I stop when I want.”
Leading the research project, Professor Alim Louis Benabid said: “The brain is still capable of generating commands that would normally move the arms and legs, there’s just nothing to carry them out.”
While the early results hold promise, the researchers added that the system is a “long way” from clinical application and will “require improvements” before becoming available to all spinal injury patients.
As specialists in nurse-led complex care in the home in the UK, Almond Care has particular expertise in delivering bespoke spinal injury care and support to clients with spinal cord injuries (SCI).
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