By Marissa Payne, published The Washington Post
This Sao Paulo arena will witness history June 12. (Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
This is not science fiction. A group of Brazilian neuroscientists developed a full-body exoskeleton suit that will allow a completely paralyzed person to stand up, walk on the pitch and kick the first ball of the World Cup. Whaaaa?!
Yes, the “Walk Again” technology created by 53-year-old Miguel Nicolelis is as amazing as it sounds. Grantland reports:
[The suit] works based on the same concept that drove [Brazil’s] 1970 championship team: The mind treats the exoskeleton as an extension of the physical body. For the paralyzed man walking, his brain will essentially think of the exoskeleton as a set of legs; for Pele, his brain thought of the ball as an extension of his feet. This is more than some Zen theory — it’s science based on Nicolelis’s years of research on neuroplasticity, the principle that the brain can rewire itself to adapt to new circumstances and incorporate elements of the world around us.
Here’s a sneak peak at the technology that Nicolelis posted on his Facebook page. In a previous video, he notes the suit that will debut at the World Cup will be visually enhanced by a Brazilian artist.
Pretty cool, right? The big reveal will happen on June 12 during the World Cup opening ceremony when, according to Grantland, seven other paralyzed individuals in their wheelchairs will accompany the man walking in the exoskeleton suit who will kick the ball. The ball may not travel far, but if it travels at all, that will be a goal for both science and humanity.