Brain-Computer Interface Allows Man With Paraplegia To Walk

An Do, MD Assistant Professor Department of Neurology University of California, Interview with: An Do, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology
University of California, Irvine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. An Do: In this study, we demonstrated that it is possible for a person with paraplegia due to spinal cord injury to regain brain-controlled walking through the use of a brain-computer interface. This system records EEG signals as a person is thinking about walking. While the person is thinking about walking, EEG signals change in a manner which can be detected by a computer algorithm. Upon detecting that a person is thinking about walking from the EEG signals, the computer sends a command signal to an electrical stimulation system to stimulate the nerves in the legs to continuously generate alternating right and left stepping movements. This stepping stimulation stops when he stops thinking about walking.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. An Do: At this point, the study represents a proof-of-concept. It does give hope that perhaps in the future, a refined version of such a system may eventually become a means to help restore brain-controlled walking to those with paraplegia due to spinal cord injury.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. An Do:  Future research will need to determine such a system can be used by a larger population of people with spinal cord injury.


Christine E. King, Po T. Wang, Colin M. McCrimmon, Cathy CY Chou, An H. Do, Zoran Nenadic. The feasibility of a brain-computer interface functional electrical stimulation system for the restoration of overground walking after paraplegia. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 2015; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12984-015-0068-7

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An Do, MD (2015). Brain-Computer Interface Allows Man With Paraplegia To Walk