Brain Computer Interface Powers Leg Orthosis, May Help Some Walk Again (video)

Brain Computer Interface Powers Leg Orthosis, May Help Some Walk Again

Restoring walking abilities to spinal cord injury victims is a goal of many research teams around the globe, most focusing on repairing the damaged nerves and trying to find ways for nerve signals to bypass the injury site. Researchers at Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center have reported in journal arXiv that they developed a walking gait orthosis that uses an EEG cap as the interface for controlling its motions. They hope that the technology will allow for a cheap, easy, and non-invasive option to getting paraplegics walking again.

The system was tested with an able-bodied subject that had a few hours of training using a virtual avatar, and after 10 minutes training using the real orthosis, was able to achieve perfect activation so that the device never moved when not wanted by the user.

The system uses a commercially available robotic gait orthosis (RoGO), a Nintendo Wii controller as the gyro, and to make sure the able bodied subject wasn’t cheating, an electromyogram was used to detect if muscles were helping to flex his leg.

While some mind-control technologies may not amount to much more than gimmicks, there’s also plenty of serious research being done in the field — particularly when it comes to artificial limbs. So far, the majority of that work has focused on robotic arms, but a team of researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California have now made some progress with a robotic leg prosthesis controlled by EEG signals. As you might expect, things remain a bit limited at this point — not amounting to much more than the ability to start and stop — but the researchers say they’ve been able to achieve a 100 percent response rate with no “false alarms,” and that the results are promising enough to begin tackling additional degrees of freedom like turning and sitting. What’s more, while the system has so far only been tested on able-bodied individuals, the researchers hope that it will eventually be able to aid those with spinal cord injuries and aid in rehabilitation. You can get a quick look at it on video after the break.

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