May 23, 2014

If all goes as planned, the whole world, millions of viewers will watch as a Brazilian paralyzed teenager gets up from his wheelchair and walks onto the field and kicks the ceremonial ball at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup games June 12.

Thanks to mind-controlled technology and 3D printing which will allow this young man or woman to use their brain to control a robotic prosthesis to move their legs.

The teen will wear a special helmet, custom made with 3D printed parts. His/her lower body will be supported by a high-tech exoskeleton. There will be electrodes placed on his or her scalp or within the brain.

"When the teen thinks about walking, the electrodes will transmit the brain signals to a small computer, worn like a backpack. The computer turns those wireless commands into movement."

Photo: Courtesy of Miguel Nicolelis and the Walk Again project

The pioneering work is being led by Dr. Miguel A.L. Nicolelis of Duke University, 52, a neuroscientist who is also part of the 'Walk Again Project', an international collaboration that aims to use technology to overcome paralysis.

The research behind the project is backed by a variety of institutions including Duke University Center for Neuroengineering and the Technical University of Munich, among other universities from the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Brazil.

Colorado State University Idea-2-Product 3D printing lab has developed helmet to make the exoskeleton's functional. The helmet is dotted with electrodes that are situated on the person's head in exact location so their brain can optimally communicate with the electrodes. Because the helmet has to be customized to fit to patient's head, researchers used 3D printing to help in creating custom inner lining of the helmet. The lining has to protect the head and the electrodes and yet must fit inside the helmet.

Previously, researchers had to stuff the helmets with foam. For this research, engineers first 3D scanned the patient's head, and then used LulzBot TAZ 3D printers to create the 3D model out of NinjaFlex filament. 3D printing allows them to make and improve models constantly. It was a complex process but this now-affordable technology could help them save time and money. The final product, a white, pliable and head-sized thermoplastic urethane liner took only 58 hours and 38 minutes to print.

But why the World Cup?

Nicolelis, grew up in Sao Paulo with a passion for football, told CBS News: "Football is a very big deal. The World Cup is the world's largest sports competition, the ultimate sharing opportunity. We proposed to the government that instead of a regular musical or typical opening ceremony that has been done in the past, we could surprise the world by doing a scientific demonstration instead."

"Sports can be a huge avenue to reach out to people that would never actually pay attention to science news," he said. "I always wanted to show kids in Brazil how important science can be for society."

Watch video below the introduction of the Walk Again Project:


via Coloradoan

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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peter wrote at 5/23/2014 2:38:26 PM:

finally a reason to start watching football

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