A device that could help the paralysed walk again

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In 2011, University of Melbourne neurologist Dr Thomas Oxley was travelling in New York when he was invited to have a chat with the military neurologist directing the prosthetic limb program for DARPA, the research unit of the U.S. Department of Defense. While there, Oxley suggested that it might be possible to allow paraplegics and quadriplegics to move by directing an exoskeleton with their thoughts – without the need for complex and invasive brain surgery. Impressed, DARPA gave Oxley a grant to pursue his idea. The DARPA funding was eventually extended with additional grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and a group made up of more than 39 senior researchers from engineering, science and medicine departments at the University of Melbourne succeeded in creating the device, called the stentrode.

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