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'All systems go' for a paralyzed person to kick off the World Cup
Date:6/10/2014

This news release is available in German.

According to researchers in the Walk Again Project, all systems are go for a bold demonstration of neuroscience and cognitive technology in action: On June 12, during the opening of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a paralyzed person wearing a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton is expected to make the first kick of the football championship.

The Walk Again Project is an international collaboration of more than one hundred scientists, led by Prof. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University and the International Institute for Neurosciences of Natal, Brazil. Prof. Gordon Cheng, head of the Institute for Cognitive Systems at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), is a leading partner.

Eight Brazilian patients, men and women between 20 and 40 years of age who are paralyzed from the waist down, have been training for months to use the exoskeleton. The system works by recording electrical activity in the patient's brain, recognizing his or her intention such as to take a step or kick a ball and translating that to action. It also gives the patient tactile feedback using sensitive artificial skin created by Cheng's institute.

The feeling of touching the ground

Inspiration for this so-called CellulARSkin technology as well as for the Walk Again Project itself came from a 2008 collaboration. As Cheng sums up that complex and widely reported experiment, "Miguel set up a monkey walking on a treadmill in North Carolina, and then I made my humanoid robot walk with the signal in Kyoto." It was a short step for the researchers to envision a paralyzed person walking with the help of a robotic exoskeleton that could be guided by mental activity alone.

"Our brains are very adaptive in the way that
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Contact: Patrick Regan
patrick.regan@tum.de
49-162-427-9876
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert  

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