It's like a scene from a futuristic science fiction movie, but it's really happening this afternoon before the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and it has a connection to Colorado State University. A paralyzed Brazilian citizen in a mechanical bodysuit will stand, walk up to a soccer ball and kick it, aided by the prosthetic exoskeleton that he or she controls with his brain waves.

The Walk Again Project, will mark the first time a paralyzed person walks on his or her own using a device he controls. The demonstration will take place during the 25-minute opening ceremony, which starts at 12:15 p.m. MST on ESPN. CSU’s Idea-2-Product 3D printing laboratory developed the protective liner worn by the paralyzed individual operating the suit.

Courtesy Colorado State University

The liner fits between the electrode cap, which sits precisely on a patient’s head over the regions of the brain that dictate movement, and a safety helmet. The electrodes detect brain signals and transmit the message to the exoskeleton.

 

“It’s important those electrodes stay in place and we also need to protect the patient,” said Alan Rudolph, CSU’s vice president of research and project manager of the Walk Again demonstration.

Courtesy Colorado State University

CSU researchers developed the custom, 3D printed liner and custom parts using scans of the patient’s head and input from the Walk Again research team. They spent months designing the soft, flexible liner - which is printed from a rubber-like polymer – so it would provide easy access to the electrodes and also could be easily adjusted.

 

The CSU team also developed custom brackets that mount LED sensors on the helmet to provide feedback to the patient on how well he is controlling the exoskeleton.

[Colorado State University]

Watch a YouTube video that describes the Walk Again Project: