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VR & Exoskeletal Training Restores Some Motor Control in Paraplegics

The Walk Again Project is an international, collaborative effort by neuroscientists and engineers to help paralyzed individuals regain motor control of their limbs. The project began with studies examining the brain activity of paraplegics immersed in a virtual simulation where they would attempt to make their digital avatar walk using brainwaves. Once the patients were able to make the connection between the power-of-thought and simulated walking, they advanced to experimenting with sophisticated exoskeletons that converted their thoughts into physical movement.

Over time, researchers observed an increase in the patients’ abilities to control the exoskeletons, but then they noticed something unexpected; the patients were also regaining some motor control over their own limbs. It appears that training the mind in the VR simulation, coupled with using the neural interfaces to control an external device, may have helped repair links between the brain and damaged neural pathways.