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Article published in Science Translational Medicine

Closed-loop neuromodulation of spinal sensorimotor circuits controls refined locomotion after comple...

14-16 November 2012 International Conference on Neurorehabilitation

NEUWalk scientists Prof. Courtine and Prof. Micera participate in the conference.

Results published in Science and Nature Magazine

Rats with spinal cord injuries and severe paralysis are now walking thanks to researchers from NEUWa...


The FLOAT is a cable robot developed by Lutz Medical Engineering together with University Hospital Balgrist (UZH) and ETH Zurich that supports patients with walking disorders and enables locomotor training in a safe and natural environment.

The unique concept was designed in a way that overcomes the abundant problem of undesirable inertial forces that act on the human body. For this purpose great parts of mass (e.g. motors) were removed from the subject. The four actuators interact with the human subject via four ropes that are deflected by displaceable units and converge in one point to which the patients are attached via a harness. The position and forces acting onto this node are precisely controlled within a 3D workspace allowing movements of many degrees of freedom.

Top left: Motor that drives winch. Bottom left: Displaceable unit deflecting cable. Right: Subject attached to the FLOAT via a harness. Pictures: Lutz Medical Engineering, Switzerland

This newly developed robot assists as needed, transparently following patients while maximizing engagement and therefore therapeutic outcome. In contrast to training on a treadmill, overground gait training requires the patient to initiate, adjust and terminate gait while controlling active propulsion and maintaining balance.

As part of the NEUWalk project, it was shown in rodents that, compared to training on a treadmill, overground locomotor training induces greater neuronal plasticity resulting in a better functional outcome. (Read more in the article Restoring Voluntary Control of Locomotion after Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury

Given the generally accepted higher dependence on supraspinal input for walking in humans it may be hypothesized that overground training is even more beneficial for human subjects.


Various training paradigms enabled by FLOAT. Pictures: Lutz Medical Engineering, Switzerland

Contact: Prof. Dr. Armin Curt, Spinal Cord Injury Center, Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich


Gait and Rehabilitation Platform

Gait and Rehabilitation Platform at CHUV, Photo Alain Herzog / EPFL

A room at the Centre Hôpitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) has been equiped with an up-to-date experimental gait and rehabilitation platform. The room has a size of approximately 16 x 6 m. It contains

  • devices for locomotor neurorehabilitation,
  • recording tools for assessments, and
  • stimulation systems.


These systems are all interconnected to facilitate recordings and to trigger and/or control events on one system by another system.


Contact: Prof. Dr. Grégoire Courtine, Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)