Posts Tagged ‘London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’

French Scientists Help Paralysed Man to Walk with Robot Exoskeleton

October 6, 2019

Friday’s I, for 4th October 2019, also carried the astonishing news that a paralysed man had been able to walk and move his arms using an exoskeleton developed by scientists at the university of Grenoble. The article, ‘Paralysed man walks with help of exoskeleton’ by Rhiannon Williams and Tom Bawden, on page 5 of the newspaper, ran

A paralysed man has been able to move his arms and walk with the assistance of a robotic exoskeleton suit controlled by his thoughts, in a breakthrough that could revolutionise the lives of patients around the world.

The 28-yeard-old man is paralysed from the shoulders down with only partial movement in his biceps and left wrist, meaning he is classified as a tetraplegic and operates a joystick-controlled wheelchair.

Over the course of a two-year trial conducted by French researchers including the University of Grenoble, he was able to move all four of his limbs through brain signals recorded and interpreted by the robotic suit.

The team implanted a recording device between the patient’s brain and skull either side of his head, containing electrodes to collect brain signals and transmit them to a decoding algorithm. Those signals were translated into his desired movements and communicated to the exoskeleton suit to move it, after activating a brain-operated “on” switch. The suit was suspended from the ceiling to allow it to balance correctly.

The patient trained the decoding algorithm to understand his thoughts by using it to move a digital avatar in a video game before raching out for 2D and 3D objects while wearing the suit. He spent 95 days training the algorithm at home playing the game and teaching an avatar to walk onscreen, and a further 45 days operating the suit in the lab. In the first two months, he was able to activate the switch 73 per cent of the time over six sessions, while over 39 sessions he was able to walk over a total of 145m.

The study, published in The Lancet Neurology, has the potential to enhance patient autonomy and quality of life. “Our finds could move us a step closer to helping tetraplegic patients to drive computers using braini signals alone, perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility,” said Professor Stephan Chabardes, a neurosurgeon  from the CHU Grenoble-Alpes teachinig hospital. The trial is continuing with three more patients as researchers seek to remove the ceiling-mounted harness.

While the study is a “welcome and exciting advance”, its findings are a long way from reality, said Professor Tom Shakespeare from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Even if workable, cost contraints mean hi-tech options are never going to be available to most people with spinal cord injury,m” he said. “One analysis suggests only 15 per cent of the world’s disabled population have access to the wheelchairs or other assistive technologies they need.”

A related peace, ‘Success: Real-world results after months of training’ adds

Robotic exoskeletons have been touted for years as a way to increase the mobility of elderly people and those who have limited movement, with global companies such as LG, Honda, Panasonic, Audi and Hyundai among the investors.

The trial’s exoskeleton is operated by a semi-invasive brain-computer system, and is the first of its kind designed for long-term use to activate all four limbs, according to Professor Alim-Louis Benabid, from the University of Grenoble.

‘Previous brain-computer studies have used more invasive recording devices implanted beneath the outermost membrane of the brain, where they eventually stop working. They have been connected to wires, limited to creating movement in just one limb, or have focused on restoring movement to patients’ own muscles’, he said.

The exoskeleton in the trial has 14 degrees of movement, meaning it can move in 14 different ways. Over time the patient progressed from reaching towards targets on cubes using one hand to using both hands to touch targets including rotating both wrists after 16 months. On average, the patient was able to perform tasks between 10 per cent and 20 per cent more successfully with the exoskeleton than by controlling the digital avatar, suggesting he received richer feedback in the real world.

Here’s the picture that accompanied the article of the man wearing the suit.

As the article says, there have been designs for robotic exoskeletons for some time. IN the 50s – 60s American scientists had plans for one. However, only the claw was built because the motors that they were using were so powerful they would have shaken the whole suit apart. Then in the 1990s there were designs for robotic leggings very much like those in the Wallace and Gromit film, The Wrong Trousers. They were designed to help paralysed people to walk. Driven by electric motors and with a computer learning system, the trousers would have first been worn by an able-bodied person. They would have walked about to teach the machine how to do it. After the machine had taken in this information, they would have been passed on to the disabled people needing them. A similar machine appeared in the I a few weeks ago, when it reported the development of robotic shorts.

At the moment, I’m afraid Professor Shakespeare is right, and such exoskeletons are too expensive for general use by the disabled. But hopefully if this technology is improved and developed, the price will come down and something like this machine might become affordable. It would certainly improve disabled people’s quality of life. In the meantime, we could do much by giving far more disabled people throughout the world access to the devices and machines we have now, like wheelchairs, so that far more than 15 per cent of the global disabled population have them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vox Political on the Government’s Claim of Low Unemployment

January 21, 2015

Tory Lies Drawing

Earlier this even I reblogged Tom Pride’s piece on the claims by the Tories that unemployment for several years. It’s an entirely spurious claim, as the government has been comprehensively falsifying the unemployment figures for years. People on certain long term benefits are not counted, as aren’t those poor souls, who’ve been sanctioned. Mike over at Vox Political has this article extensively critiquing the new claims. It’s entitled Unemployment figures are a sanction-based stitch-up, research shows, and begins

The Coalition government will be crowing about the latest drop in unemployment today – according to official statistics. What a shame it’s all a load of bunk.

New research by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that only around one-fifth (20 per cent) of people who have been sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance have actually found work, leaving 1.6 million in limbo; they’re off the benefits system but researchers can only surmise that they are relying on food banks.

(Isn’t the Coalition government desperate to discredit food banks? Are ministers determined to drive the out-of-work population to starvation?)

This suggests that official Office for National Statistics figures are inaccurate. The latest batch – out today (January 21, 2015) – claim that unemployment dropped by 58,000 in the three months to November last year, when it totalled 1.91 million.

How can we trust these figures when it has been claimed there’s a sanction-based stitch-up going on?

Just as significant, but far more horrifying, Mike’s piece covers the finding by Debbie Abrahams, a member of the House of Commons select committee on Work and Pensions, that the DWP is well aware of the harm to health through starvation and poverty the sanctions regime does to those upon which they are inflicted. They’re a recognised, built in part of the system. Johnny Void has also blogged on this, a piece which I also reblogged earlier this evening.

This is vile. It puts Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith and the rest of the Tories in the same class as Stalin. As I pointed out in my comments to Mr Void’s article, Stalin used artificial famines as a tool to destroy opposition to his reign and the collectivisation of agriculture in the Soviet Union. In Ukraine alone, 8 million people died in agenocide the Ukrainian people have termed the Holodomor. The number of Soviet citizens murdered in this way, along with the numerous victims of the purges, is 30-45 millions.

This magnitudes larger than the numbers, who have so far died of starvation and neglect from benefit sanctions. So far, 45 + people have died of starvation after being sanctioned. Nevertheless, there is a return to mass starvation in this country, as the poor are forced onto food banks. As recent quotes from the government shows, Tory ministers would deny them even that if they could, just as Soviet apologists denied that there was a famine and mass starvation in Russia.

This government is engaged in a crime against humanity. And Iain Duncan Smith and his vile boss, Cameron, are guilty of culpable homicide. At the very least.