Paraplegic person to kick-start World Cup opening ceremony, thanks to robotic walking suit

The mind-controlled exoskeleton suit could potentially give paraplegic people a chance at walking again

The upcoming World Cup opening ceremony might get many buzzing with excitement, but it'll surely make one man’s dreams come true when he makes that first ritual kick on the grassy pitch in Sao Paulo.

Not just any man. A paralysed Brazilian will walk once more, thanks to a mind-controlled exoskeleton walking suit developed by a multi-nation and multi-university research project.

The technology behind the ‘Walk Again Project’ is a far cry from what started off with a monkey on a treadmill. The suit is connected to a head cap fitted with multiple electrodes, which pick up the user's brain waves; it then interprets the brain's signals into physical movements.

Duke University professor, Miguel Nicolelis, who is leading the project, claimed that wheelchairs could become obsolete in the name of science. "All of the innovations we're putting together for this exoskeleton have in mind the goal of transforming it into something that can be used by patients who suffer from a variety of diseases and injuries that cause paralysis," he told The Guardian.

He added that the walking suit is built with light metals and powered by hydraulics to enable fluid human movements. "It confirms our prediction that we are going to elicit a sensation that the exoskeleton is an extension of their body."

Nicolelis is educating nine paraplegic people, between the ages of 20 and 40, on the use of the exoskeleton but only three will attend the opening ceremony and one will execute the demonstration mid field.

Here’s to believing that miracles do happen.

Source: The Guardian

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