BY KATHY KOWALENKO
The melding of a brain-computer interface with a prosthetic device will let paralyzed people walk again if IEEE Member Miguel Nicolelis has his way.
Codirector of the Center for Neuroengineering at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C., Nicolelis and his team are developing a real-time interface together with a full-body exoskeleton to be controlled by signals from a paraplegic’s brain.
Nicolelis has assembled an international team of neurophysiologists, computer scientists, engineers, roboticists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons at laboratories around the world for his project. Their goal is to enable a paralyzed person to walk again by the end of 2012. The Walk Again Project, the first worldwide nonprofit brain-research initiative of its kind, includes partners in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
“We’ve created a consortium that will manage all the scientific and clinical aspects of this work with the goal of making someone walk again,” Nicolelis says.
Since he briefed reporters about his work at a media event held in March to celebrate IEEE’s 125 anniversary, the team has developed a simulation of an entire exoskeleton that can be controlled by a brain-machine interface (BMI).