People who suffer from lower limb paralysis may one day walk again thanks to the EU-funded project, MINDWALKER.
For lower limb disabled people, the lack of mobility often leads to limited participation in social life. Of course, they can use wheelchairs to move around. But their mobility is fairly limited.
To help them perform their usual daily activities in the most autonomous and natural manner, the EU-funded research project MINDWALKER, launched in 2010, has developed an intelligent exoskeleton.
This project is a clever mix of mechanics, electronics, brain activity measurement devices, computer technology, and virtual reality training. It has created a functional prototype of a lower limb exoskeleton that could be activated either through brain waves detected by dry electrodes directly placed on the head in a little cap, by upper body muscle activity measurements (when a person walks, at the same time they move their arms and their shoulders) or by luminous signals.
All these functions were combined to develop an integrated system. This system has been successfully tested in May 2013 on patients in Italy. It is an exoskeleton capable of supporting the weight of an adult, ensuring walking stability and enabling different walking abilities.
The prototype exoskeleton now requires extra research initiatives beyond the scope of the MINDWALKER project in order to become fully exploitable.
In the solar system’s early days, a first Earth is thought to have been pulverised by a planet that scientists call Theia. We don’t know what it was made of or where it came from, only that it may have been the size of Mars. The powerful collision destroyed both planets so completely that scientists can only guess what they were like.
As a child, you almost certainly at one stage spent hours watching ants move about from their nest. Maybe you dropped a piece of food and watched as a group of ants came and picked it up, carrying it home in an impressive display of cooperation.
Nearly 100 years ago scientists developed a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB). Today, there are 10 million new cases worldwide and 1.6 million deaths from the disease every year. Increasingly, these cases are becoming difficult to treat as the bug that causes the disease can be resistant to antibiotics. However, several new TB vaccines are under development and there is growing optimism that a new vaccine will emerge, says Helen McShane, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, UK. This could save millions of lives, she said, but more work is needed to reassure the general public that vaccines are safe and effective.
Forests have a special magic for many of us. Steeped in folklore and fantasy, they are places for enchantments, mythical creatures and outlaws. But if they are to survive into the future, they may also need a helping hand from science.
Tuberculosis is the most common cause of death from an infectious disease.
Computer modelling will also help optimise management techniques.
Entrepreneur Nicklas Bergman on the European Innovation Council.