A Frenchman named Thibault fell 40 feet from a balcony. Although he survived the fall, the impact severed his spinal cord. He has been living without the movement of any of his limbs ever since.
A new robotic suit controlled by his brain is giving him the chance to regain a part of his life. It is a product that was two years’ in the making.
Researchers implanted recording devices on both sides of Thibault’s head. Then electrode grids collected brain signals to send them to a decoding algorithm. This information then transformed into movements that a robotic exoskeleton completes.
It Is an Industry-First Application
Thibault trained on simulators before getting the chance to use the exoskeleton. He prepared the algorithm to understand his thoughts by controlling a virtual character in a video game.
He would make the algorithm walk and touch various objects.
Once the information was transitioned into the robotic exoskeleton, Thibault got an opportunity to operate it. Ceiling connects helped the technology stay stable and connected to for safety, allowing him to complete 480 steps successfully with this invention.
It’s a long way off before the exoskeleton will have clinical applications. Thibault has some limited bicep and wrist movements, so he can operate a powered wheelchair to maintain his independence.
Thibault says he loves the technology. It allows him to walk when he wants to go somewhere, and he can stop when desired.
Researchers are taking this project to the next level, recruiting three more people to develop the technology further.