back to article Tetraplegic patient can now move his four limbs with the help of a badass neuroprosthetic suit

A neuroprosthetic robotic suit controlled by brain signals has allowed a paralysed man walk again for the first time, according to new research published in The Lancet Neurology. The 28-year-old patient has tetraplegia resulting from a spinal cord injury that stops the nervous system from moving all four limbs. Doctors and …

  1. sbt Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

    Going to hold off on building that wheelchair ramp.

    Hope they add a Combo 2 style plug for quick re-charges.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

      Sod that - I want a jet pack.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

        Aliens Power Loader, surely.

        1. Jan 0

          Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

          > Aliens: Power Loader, surely.

          No it's a Waldo. (Robert Heinlein, 1942)

          1. Medical Cynic

            Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

            It's The Wrong trousers!

            Wallace got there first...

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

        "I'd buy that for a dollar."

        Robocop reference.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Great stuff; could be boon to the elderly as well.

      Hmm, Since nobody has mentioned "You must think in Russian" then I shall ..

  2. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Pint

    I for one welcome out new power armour wearing overlords

    Good stuff boffins! Tech like this and prosthetics will be a welcome boon to many!

    It also means my dreams of a suit of personal battle-mech/power armour come one step closer!

  3. sgoprime

    Hope for the future

    I'm told that at best I should be a quadriplegic and at worst I shouldn't be able to breathe due a tumour on my spinal cord so reading articles like this always piques my interest. If the paralysis was to occur (and assuming I could still breathe) it is probably way too early in the research to be of any use for me but it does provide hope for the future for people who may be in that position.

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Hope for the future

      And let's hope that we see portable power advances as well, so that this really enhances mobility.

  4. swm Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Truly Amazing

    For someone who is paralyzed this could really enhance their quality of life.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Truly Amazing

      Brain interface technology offers almost unlimited potential for humanity.

      So why do I have that feeling that it will be abused and misused?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Truly Amazing

        Because that's just the way nature works, we've only developed ethics and morals to counterbalance the immediate self interest motive.

        The path that this technology will take is fairly straightforward, tetraplegics can now walk, more complex nerve functions will follow. The end position will be that as long as the brain itself can be sustained we will be able to build hardware or grow body parts to replace everything else.

        How long can we sustain a brain, will we find a way to replace neurons & their links insitu?

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: Truly Amazing

          Probably not that much longer than we currently do. After all, the rise in late life neurological disorders should give pause to transhumanists who think we can be made immortal in the form we currently inhabit.

          1. AK565

            Re: Truly Amazing

            IIRC the upper limit for healthspan is about 115 and lifespan is about 125 due to the general breakdown of neurons in both central and peripheral systems.

          2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Truly Amazing

            Probably not that much longer than we currently do. After all, the rise in late life neurological disorders should give pause to transhumanists who think we can be made immortal in the form we currently inhabit.

            They just plan on turning us all into Hideauze.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Truly Amazing

          "How long can we sustain a brain, will we find a way to replace neurons & their links insitu?"

          Dunno, but I suspect Rupert Murdoch might be funding the research!

  5. Nick Kew
    Alert

    Is it worth it?

    That suit looks like it'll get fearsomely hot if worn for more than a few minutes. If I had to wear one, I hope it would make me so fit I could take up a career in arctic exploration!

    Also begs the question of bodily functions (not to mention pleasures).

    1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: Is it worth it?

      If they ever become mass-market most of the Arctic will already have melted. Get the suit with floats and flippers.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Is it worth it?

      Prototypes often start out clunky and unwieldy. Does not mean it's not worth it.

      As for bodily functions and pleasures... one thing at a time, but I believe it will happen eventually.

    3. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Is it worth it?

      Seriously - if you're a tetraplegic then you're already in hell as far as "bodily functions" are concerned. This is a fantastic step forward. As the technology progresses, this will get to the stage where severely people will be able to regain that bit of dignity where they can wipe their own arses, rather than having to rely on someone else to do that for them.

      The fact that this doesn't seem to be catered for in the prototype is the least of their worries.

  6. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Next up

    That robot suit thing from Elesium. All they need is the brain interface.

    Seriously hope this research carries on! For actual disabled people and not just super soldiers.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Next up

      Seriously hope this research carries on! For actual disabled people and not just super soldiers.

      You never know if that's what this research would be for. To turn otherwise disabled people into "superhumans" for some other purpose. Certainly, it would be nice to see alternatives like the "Brainships" in "The Ship Who Sang" or Major Kusanagi in "Ghost in the Shell".

  7. Starace Silver badge
    Boffin

    Interesting idea but...

    When you start looking into how neuromechanical control works you realise there's a lot more to it than the brain, muscles and some wiring in between.

    A lot of muscular control and sensory feedback handling is embedded in central pattern generators in the spinal cord. Lots of autonomous actions and interactions that don't even need input from up top. Stuff like leg and foot motion, motor response and gait is driven by this layer not the brain.

    So hopefully they've put their work into detecting intent and built the fine control and feedback into the hardware itself, because that's how the original systems work.

    1. ivan5

      Re: Interesting idea but...

      Not only that but they need to miniaturise the back pack and reduce power requirements for it to be really useful. Bulk is fine if you are healthy with total control of all your muscles but not if you are a quadriplegic - balance is everything in that case.

  8. Rustbucket

    They need to strap him to a Boston Dynamics Atlas robot.

    https://youtu.be/rVlhMGQgDkY

  9. Symon Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Yes, but what if pervert mechanics use it?

    https://youtu.be/P_4BZnWnXzI?t=463

    We don't need any more roboplegic wrongcocks.

  10. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    What if you get tired?

    What happens when you're tired? Imagine nodding-off and having a lovely dream about wandering through summer meadows, only to wake-up and find yourself stopped in front of the fabric conditioner section in Morrison's?

  11. batfink Silver badge

    Gromit!!

    It's the wrong trousers!

  12. Not also known as SC

    Excellent research but who is funding it?

    First of all this is excellent progress. Is it too much to hope for that governments (part) fund this sort of research so it can benefit everyone who needs it once main stream technology? The worry I have is if it is carried out solely by private companies it will become a product for the rich only.

  13. herman Silver badge

    Quadriplegic

    What is this teraplegic nonsense - there is nothing wrong with the old term.

  14. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Well done, the patient

    Two years of testing must have been gruelling for him. I am impressed by his grit.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Well done, the patient

      Two years of testing must have been gruelling for him. I am impressed by his grit.

      Not meaning to sound sarcastic, but there may not have been much else to do, given his condition. I know *I* would rather be active in a research project in the same situation.

  15. hatti

    Great device, has notes of Ripley at the end of Alien 2 when shes's battling that big mo fo alien

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