Artificial intelligence restores mobility to those who have lost it

Julien Vedani is sweating on his bike. While pedaling happily, this big jock tells how his ascent of Kilimanjaro fell short last year, which does not prevent him from preparing an expedition to Machu Picchu. If the image is admirable, it is because Julien is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

This degenerative disease weakens his muscles, which is barely visible in him. The secret is these electrodes placed on his legs, connected to a artificial intelligence capable of reproducing the motor functions of the nervous system. Her name : Kurage (pronounce kouragué: jellyfish in Japanese).

A beneficial effect on the muscles as on the brain

Kurage was created by two young researchers from ENS Lyon, Amine Metani and Vance Bergeron. The latter, an American keen on cycling, had an accident in 2013, which left him a quadriplegic. “Amine Metani wanted to restore mobility to Vance, his thesis director, who lived only for cycling,” says Rudi Gombauld, co-president of Kurage. “At the time, there was nothing practical or personalized; he has therefore developed an artificial intelligence system that reproduces the functioning of the brain, to mobilize the limbs. The soul of Kurage is to reconnect the brain to the muscles. »

For a year, Julien Vedani has served as a happy guinea pig for the start-up created in 2019: “Thanks to Kurage, my left leg, which was the weakest, took on 80% of the muscles, which was unimaginable”, rejoices- he. Neurologically, the effects are also felt: “A few days after my sessions, my walking is more fluid, there is an impact on what connects the brain and the muscles, the nerves are recreated by electrostimulation”, he says. . “Half an hour of cycling with electrostimulation is the equivalent of 2 to 4 hours in normal mode, it’s even stronger since the muscles develop very strongly. »

Improve the quality of life of patients

The device accompanies both paraplegics, quadriplegics and the elderly. Dr. Di Marco observes that in cases of muscle wasting, “the interest here is to stimulate and strengthen the muscles in a faster, more effective and fun way, because it is easy to set up. In rehabilitation centers, patients have the feeling of surpassing themselves. Electrostimulation recreates muscle oxygenation, limits diabetes, cholesterol…”

Advantages that improve the quality of life of all types of patients: “It is a device that supports paraplegic and quadriplegic people, like the elderly,” says Rudi Gombauld. Kurage is continuing its research with a new “second skin type” device: simple leggings where stimulation sensors and actuators are placed, which can be linked to customers’ bicycles and private rowers. Finally, other partnerships are underway so that in the future, “disabled people can play sports where they want, when they want,” concludes the co-president of the company.

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Artificial intelligence restores mobility to those who have lost it

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