Robotic legs of paralyzed teen will kick-off this year’s world cup of soccer

Advances in medicine that once seemed to be the stuff of science fiction are slowly turning into reality.  While some scientists are doing break through work with actually re-growing human tissue, scientists on the other side of the table are trying to create robotic parts that can do the same thing.  No doubt, some major advances in robotic exoskeletons will be at the forefront of media attention in only a few months.

A paralyzed teen, using a mind-controlled exoskeleton, will kick off the World Cup this June in Brazil, thanks to The Walk Again Project.  The exoskeleton will support the lower part of the teen’s body and enable the paralyzed wearer to walk using wireless electrodes attached to the head.  The electrodes work by collecting specific brainwaves, which then are translated and signalled to the suit to move.  While the person who will actually do the kickoff has yet to be chosen, there is no question the attention of the world will witness a monumental breakthrough.

As the development of exoskeletons advances, we can only anticipate that it will be a matter of time before the technology is improved to the point where it will have application in the medical world.  It seems that the major obstacle scientists must overcome is perfecting the brain to robot neural pathways.  Once there is a sound understanding of how the brain can mesh with the technology, it is likely that the application of these types of robotics will explode.

Perhaps in our lifetime we will see the victim of a spinal cord injury walk at ease with the use of an exoskeleton.  Maybe we will see someone with severely broken bones or even some soft tissue injuries for that matter) use an exoskeleton to help that person weight-bear and rehabilitate much quicker.  The future of these advances may even evolve into robotic implants that can be completely integrated with the human body, such as in cases of amputation that lead to the immediate integration of a robotic replacement.  Although it sounds like something from Star Wars or Robocop, it very much could be the reality of the not so distant future.  Indeed, the prospect is astounding and inspiring!

Watch this Youtube video that reveals the impressive technology that will be on display at this year’s world cup of soccer.

 

Christopher Dawson

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