Científicos estadounidenses presentaron unas piernas robóticas que caminan de forma muy parecida a la humana, al contar con un sistema de control electrónico semejante al sistema nervioso que nos permite caminar sin pensar en ello.

El trabajo, publicado en la revista Journal of Neural Engineering, detalla que para lograr la proeza reprodujeron las señales rítmicas que rigen nuestros movimientos al andar y para ello se basaron en el modo en que aprenden a dar sus primeros pasos los bebés.

El hallazgo, dicen, es importante porque podría contribuir a hallar una cura para aquellas personas con heridas en su espina dorsal que les impiden o dificultan el caminar.

El sistema nervioso humano cuenta con lo que se conoce como Centro Generador de Patrones (CPG en sus siglas en inglés), es una red neuronal en la zona lumbar que permite recolectar señales de las distintas partes del cuerpo que participan en el acto de caminar.

El sistema más simple de CPG se llama medio-centro y está regulado por dos neuronas que envían señales alternas que generan el llamado ritmo y tranportan los datos proporcionados por diversos sensores, como cuando la pierna toca una superficie y vuelve a su posición de medio centro.

El equipo de la Universidad de Arizona sugiere que los bebés empiezan a caminar con este sistema básico, para luego desarrollar movimientos más complejos.

Eso explicaría por qué cuando se coloca a un bebé en una rueda de andar, éste pueden dar pasitos a pesar de no poder caminar todavía.

«Este robot es un completo modelo físico o neurobotótico del sistema, y demuestra lo útil que es la investigación robótica a la hora de entender los procesos neuroficológicos involucrados en la actividad de caminar tanto en humanos como en animales», explicó la Dra. Theresa Klein, miembro del equipo de investigación.

«Esta red subyacente podría ser el núcleo central del CPG y podría servir para averiguar cómo las personas con heridas en la médula espinal podrían recuperar la habilidad de caminar si se las estimulara adecuadamente meses después de su accidente».

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