Man “walks” again – level 3
A man paralysed from the waist down after falling from a second-storey window has been treated with robotic step training and stimulation of the spinal cord, allowing him to take thousands of steps. The team of the University of California, Los Angeles scientists reported that Mark Pollock, who was paralysed in 2010, was able to voluntarily control his leg muscles and take thousands of steps in a “robotic exoskeleton“.
Pollock, who is from Northern Ireland, was able to take the steps during five days of training and for two weeks afterwards. The procedure used a battery-powered wearable suit
that allows people to move their legs in a step-like fashion. The device is able to capture data to allow the scientists to see how much the subject is moving his or her own limbs or is being aided by the suit.
The data collected on Pollock showed he was able to voluntarily assist the robot during stepping. According to UCLA, Pollock is the first person with complete paralysis to regain enough voluntary control to actively work the device. The researchers said that they do not describe Pollock’s achievement as “walking” because without the robotic device and spinal stimulation, no paralysed person has ever independently walked.
Difficult words: paralyse (to be unable to move), voluntarily (if you do something voluntarily, you choose to do it), exoskeleton (“exo-“ – external; skeleton – all the bones of the body; exoskeleton is a rigid external covering of the body), aid (to help), device (machine).
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