Paraplegic teenager to kick off World Cup thanks to robot suit

The identity of the teenager has not been revealed.
By Aileen Graef Follow @AileenGraef Contact the Author   |   June 12, 2014 at 3:45 PM

SAO PAULO, June 12 (UPI) -- A Brazilian paraplegic teenager will kick the first ball at the 2014 Brazilian World Cup using a robotic exoskeleton controlled by his or her brain signals.

The suit has been created by a team of 150 researchers at the Walk Again Project led by Brazilian neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis.

"It's like putting a man on the moon," said Nicolelis. He added that the technology is just the beginning of a future "in which people with paralysis may abandon the wheelchair and literally walk again."

The exoskeleton works by the cap picking up signals from the brain, relaying them to a backpack which contains a computer that decodes the signals and sends them to the legs.

After practice, the brain should start associating the movements of the legs with the vibrations the device makes on the patient's arm, which gives the patient the sensation of having operational legs.

The plan is to have the patient do the symbolic kick-off with one of the official Brazuca balls. The World Cup begins Thursday at 4 p.m. with Brazil vs Croatia.

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