As promised, a paralyzed man did indeed kick off today's World Cup festivities by wearing a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton. Juliana Pinto, a 29-year-old paraplegic, was one of eight patients chosen for the opening ceremony after extensive training in a lab in Sao Paulo. Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist from Duke University who's the leader of the Walk Again Project, was ecstatic, proclaiming on Twitter "We did it!!!" Though the kick, as you can see above, was just a simple nudge to the ball, it's actually extremely complicated. Nicolelis told the AFP news agency that it's "the first time an exoskeleton has been controlled by brain activity and offered feedback to the patients," and that "doing a demonstration in a stadium" has never been done before. Unfortunately, it seems this momentous occasion wasn't captured on as many television networks as the rest of the opening ceremony, which strikes us as a crying shame. Hit the source links for more information on this miraculous innovation and have a peek at a fan-captured video of the event after the break.
We did it!!!!
- Miguel Nicolelis (@MiguelNicolelis) June 12, 2014