Paralysis breakthrough as man can move using exoskeleton controlled by his ...

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Quadriplegics have been offered fresh hope with the invention of a robotic skeleton controlled by brain signals.

One wheelchair-bound patient paralysed from the neck down following a traumatic spine injury can move again by using the pioneering device.

Heartwarming footage captured the unnamed 28-year-old 'walking' after months of getting to grips with the gadget.

His limbs are strapped to the robot, which he controls with his mind. His muscles are still paralysed. 

The breakthrough has been published in medical journal The Lancet Neurology, with researchers labelling the exoskeleton an 'exciting advance'.

However, the technology is still in its early days and far from being used in daily life. Further trials on other patients are planned.

Currently there is no cure for quadriplegia, forcing most sufferers to spend the rest of their lives in wheelchairs and needing round-the-clock care. 

The robotic skeleton is controlled by brain signals that are collected with sensors. They are placed between the skull and the brain over areas that control movement

The robotic skeleton is controlled by brain signals that are collected with sensors. They are placed between the skull and the brain over areas that control movement

Heartwarming footage captured the unnamed 28-year-old 'walking' after months of getting to grips with the device (pictured). It's attached to harness on the ceiling for support

Heartwarming footage captured the unnamed 28-year-old 'walking' after months of getting to grips with the device (pictured). It's attached to harness on the ceiling for support

If proven to work on other paralysed patients, the device could revolutionise life for the estimated 50,000 Britons and 290,000 Americans living with a spinal cord injury.  

The patient studied had one of a cervical spinal cord injuries, considered to be one of the most severe types of them all. 

Around 20 per cent of these patients are left quadriplegic, meaning all four limbs are partially or completely paralysed.

It's not clear how he received his injury, but the majority of patients with spinal cord injuries are involved in a car accident, figures show.

The man was paralysed from the shoulders down, with only some movement in his biceps and left wrist to operate his wheelchair joystick.  

But now, after two years of brain training, the patient is finally able to experience movement again, researchers at the University of Grenoble, France, revealed. 

Lead author Professor Alim-Louis Benabid said: 'Our patient already considers his rapidly increasing prosthetic mobility to be rewarding, but his progress has not changed his clinical status.'

Co-author Professor Stephan Chabardes said: 'Our findings could move us a step closer to helping tetraplegic patients to drive computers using brain signals alone, perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility.'

If the spinal cord is damaged or injured, messages to and from the brain don't work properly, and movement stops. 

The brain still activates, but communication through the spinal cord to the muscles is stopped. 

The exoskeleton, which hasn't been named, is designed to collect these messages and move how the patient wishes to.

Sensors are placed in the head between the skull and the brain over areas of the brain that control movement in the limbs. 

Sensors are placed in the head between the skull and the brain over areas that control sensation and motor function. Pictured, the placement of the sensors

Sensors are placed in the head between the skull and the brain over areas that control sensation and motor function. Pictured, the placement of the sensors 

The patient learnt to control limbs of a virtual avatar using just his brain first

The patient learnt to control limbs of a virtual avatar using just his brain first

He slowly started to use the exoskeleton machine to touch objects (pictured)

He slowly started to use the exoskeleton machine to touch objects (pictured)

Using the avatar, video game and exoskeleton combined, the man covered a total of 145 metres with 480 steps, according to findings published in The Lancet Neurology

Using the avatar, video game and exoskeleton combined, the man covered a total of 145 metres with 480 steps, according to findings published in The Lancet Neurology

The researchers hope the technology can be used to help wheelchair-bound patients use just their brain to control their wheelchairs

The researchers hope the technology can be used to help wheelchair-bound patients use just their brain to control their wheelchairs

This placing would vary depending on which parts of the spinal cord are damaged and what movements a patient isn't able

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