An Irish man named Mark Pollock who was paralyzed five years ago is taking his first steps since then.
Mark Pollock fell from a second-story window back in 2010, breaking his spine and leaving the athlete without the ability to walk — and now, thanks to an amazing robotic exoskelton, he’s taking steps once again.
Pollock has been through additional physical hardships: he lost his sight in 1998. But that didn’t stop him from becoming an athlete who competed in endurance races and became the first blind man to race to the South Pole, according to a CNET report.
But all of his athletic dreams came crashing down when he fell from that window in 2010, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and unable to walk. But a team of researchers at the University of California Los Angeles thought he’d be the perfect individual to test a robotic exoskeleton system that would allow Pollock to take steps on his own after just five days of training, gaining full control of his own muscles — the first time someone with complete paralysis has been able to do this.
Their findings were published in the journal of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The research describes a battery-powered robotic exo-suit that stimulates the spin non-invasively. This procedure had been tested on five other men with paralysis, and they each regained the ability to control their muscles voluntarily, suggesting that the neural connections to muscles still exist even after paralysis.
But the problem was that their legs couldn’t bear the weight of the individual, so that’s why UCLA researchers started working on a robotic exoskeleton as the natural next step. This allowed Pollock to stand on his own, and then use his legs to take steps.
By taking thousands of steps, it gave Pollock some much needed cardiovascular stimulation and muscle tone. He said according to the report he was able to reach a heart rate of 138 beats per minute, similar to that of aerobic training, and a rate that paralyzed people have difficulty getting to.