Exoskeleton And Electricity Help Man Walk Again

Exoskeletons have long been a thing of fiction, with movies like Aliens showing us large mechs that could move crates and giant aliens with ease, but in recent years people have seen the technology become realistic and helpful, such as homemade exo’s making lifting weights easy or even the army developing exo’s to improve shooting. Now with a little help from electricity they could soon be developing something close to a miracle, letting people walk again.

Mark Pollok was paralyzed from the waist down in 2010, with no control of his lower body he began testing out Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton. While an exoskeleton could give people back control of their body they have displayed even greater results by using a process known as “transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation”. This means that by attaching electrodes to Mark’s skin they were able to send jolts of electric to his spine.
All communication in the body is electric charges and by using this process they were able to see results. During the experiment, Mark was able to regain some control over his legs, to the point where he could raise and flex his knees.

Combining these two processes they were able to give Mark some ability to walk again, he was even able to sweat (something that he has been unable to do since the accident in 2010).

Technology can do many things, but sometimes it’s giving people the chance to do what we call simple that makes it amazing.

Thank you Washington Post for the information.

Image courtesy of the Guardian and Mark Pollok.

Walking Bio-Bots Powered By Muscles Becoming a Reality

First of all, a ‘bio-bot’ is a machine which uses synthetic 3D-printed material with biological muscle tissue. Having stated the latter, researchers from the University of Illinois have apparently developed the so-called bio-bots in question, taking us one step further into the future of technological advancements.

Some might wonder how the bio-bots work and what is so special about them. The answer lies in the muscle fibers, having them spiked with electricity in order to contract. The muscles are attached to flexible 3D-printed skeleton frameworks, resulting in bending the skeleton when the muscles contract and reverting back to its original state when they relax. This in the end produces movement, combining biological and synthetic material to achieve such an action, thus the name ‘bio-bot’.

It is said that researchers have been working on similar projects since 2012. At that time, a walking bio-bot prototype used rat heart cells in order to provide motion. However, the researchers found out that the rat cells were not responding well to the induced electricity and couldn’t control when they fired. However, it appears that the ‘new version’ has solved this problem.

“Skeletal muscles cells are very attractive because you can pace them using external signals,” head researcher Rashid Bashir said. “We want to have different options that could be used by engineers to design these things.”

The group of researchers from Illinois sees bio-bots potentially useful for surgical aids and drug delivery vehicles. The group also emphasized that, having their own neurons, they could even recognize and respond to light and chemical stimuli. The group has apparently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is a good place to get more details about the bio-bots in question.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The University of Illinois and Nature World News