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Video: Exoskeleton Helps Paraplegic People Eat
Scientists have managed to almost completely restore the hand function of paraplegics in everyday life using technical means: For this purpose, the researchers, led by the University of Tübingen, have developed a brain-controlled hand exoskeleton with which six subjects were able to use their paralyzed hands again in everyday life.
With a kind of portable robot, for example, they could eat and drink independently in a restaurant. To do this, the system analyzes the subject's brain waves and eye movements and translates them into control signals for the exoskeleton. A major advantage of the system is that the patient is spared an operation. Novel polyamide electrodes conduct brain waves directly to the surface of the head and are combined with a control mechanism.
This allowed the study participants to reliably control the hand exoskeleton for several hours. The system can be used in everyday life with little effort: the portable, wireless system components are integrated into the wheelchair of the paraplegic and are controlled via a small tablet computer.
Intelligent, context-sensitive and cosmetically inconspicuous
In the next step, the researchers headed by Dr. Surjo R. Soekadar, who is working on the project with colleagues from Italy and Spain, is developing the neuro-robotic system further: an intelligent, context-sensitive and cosmetically completely inconspicuous system is planned. This can then be easily integrated into everyday life and created without the help of third parties.
Dr. Soekadar adds that after spinal cord injuries and strokes and regular use, the recovery process is supported and helps to restore the mobility of the paralyzed hand. With such neuroplastic effects, the treatment options for neuropsychiatric diseases such as depression or cognitive disorders can be expanded effectively. However, further large-scale clinical studies are required to demonstrate such effects.
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