Paraplegics Learn to Walk with Virtual Legs using Exoskeletons

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 Virtual Reality has been in many things and has given us many things but being such an integral part of something beyond the measure of technology is just far-reaching and incredible because this time Virtual Reality made paraplegic people feel their legs for the first time ever in their lives helping them learn how to walk using exoskeletons.

According to a recent study, a skillful combination of motorized exoskeletons and virtual reality could effectively help paraplegics reclaim the lost control over their limbs. The therapy was tried on eight paralyzed patients- one of them being completely paralyzed due to spinal cord injury. The patients were subjected to this revolutionary new therapy for 12 months where they were made to participate in a training regimen designed using immersive VR technology, visual tactile feedback and customized lower limb exoskeleton.

During the course of the therapy, most of the patients showed signs of recovery where none of the eight patients had responded to any type of previous rehab. The patients post the program showed certain degree of voluntary muscle function and started experiencing sensations such as touch and pain.

As a result, four of the patients were reclassified from being completely paralyzed to incomplete paraplegic. The VR therapy works in three segments where in the first part patients are made to don an Oculus Rift headset along with EEG Cap to monitor the brain wave activity and a vibrating tactile feedback device attached to the forearm which helps them to relate the activities shown in the immersive environment to their own body parts.

In the second part, patients were put on a treadmill supported by a robotic exoskeleton that automatically copied movements in the legs on behalf of the patients. Now the final part combined the first and second parts together making the patients to walk on a treadmill while viewing a soccer player avatar in Virtual Reality.

The researched believe that their study could significantly impact and improve the state of paraplegic patients helping them to rehabilitate.




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