The breakthrough is described as an “exciting advance” but is in its very early stages and “far from clinical application”.
The 28-year-old quadriplegic patient, known only as Thibault, used a system of sensors implanted near his brain to send messages to move all four of his paralysed limbs of the exoskeleton which was attached to a ceiling harness to help him balance.
But for now the exoskeleton is purely an experimental prototype and is “far from clinical application”, the researchers added.
“(This) is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed… to activate all four limbs,” said Alim-Louis Benabid, a neurosurgeon and professor at the University of Grenoble, France, who co-led the trial.
Each recorder contained 64 electrodes which collected brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm.
The system translated the brain signals into the movements the patient thought about, and sent his commands to the exoskeleton.
Over two years, the patient carried out various mental tasks to train the algorithm to understand his thoughts and to progressively increase the number of movements he could make.
Commenting on the results, Tom Shakespeare, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was “a welcome and exciting advance” but added: “Proof of concept is a long way from usable clinical possibility.”
“A danger of hype always exists in this field. Even if ever workable, cost constraints mean that high-tech options are never going to be available to most people in the world with spinal cord injury.”
Credit: Sky News