The University of California Irvine Brain Computer Interface Lab has been working for years on creating new technology that will enable people, such as paraplegics, to walk again. The project began in 2008 and, back in 2014, UC Irvine was able to help Adam Fritz walk again. Fritz became paralyzed in both legs after a motorcycle accident in 2008.
In a recent interview with OCRegister, Fritz talked about what it has been like working with UC Irvine and how he’s able to use a computer to control his legs. In one test, he was asked to control a “set of robotic legs in real time on a treadmill,” which proved that the technology was capable of working. “They sit you down in front of it and say, ‘Make it move,’” Fitz told OCRegister. After special training, including workouts to help build his leg muscles to walk again, he was able to use the machine to control his own movements.
“I think and then I walk,” Fritz said of his first tests with the special outfit, which includes electrodes, a special backpack, a computer that communicates wirelessly and a special cap that reads brain waves. “It gives you that hope for the future.”
UC Irvine’s project isn’t mainstream yet – though there are exoskeleton’s that are working to help with similar injuries – but it shows how much progress has been made just since 2008. You can see a video of the experiment from 2014 below. UC Irvine told OCRegister that its next steps are making the computer so small that it can be embedded into a “chest like a pacemaker.”