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Global competition in exoskeleton research: the winner is the entire human kind!

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Global competition in exoskeleton research
Global competition in exoskeleton research
World football championship involves millions of supporters around the world, but we need to wait July to see which will be the winning team of the Rivet Cup.
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Meanwhile someone else has already won a more important competition against their disability: the paraplegic Brazilian teen, thanks to a motorized exoskeleton controlled by his brain, made all those millions people feel like kicking the ball : This is the moment!

The project “Walk Again” @walkagainprojct makes a world premiere by doing a demonstration in a stadium, showing the value of the international collaboration (National Science Foundation,  Technical University of Munich and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal in Brazil) in the BCI  research. Funding for the Walk Again Project comes from Brazil’s Financing Body for Studies and Projects—a federal agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation—as well as the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal.

By the way, everybody was disappointed yesterday because the take of the kick was bad and we couldn’t see much. However we have the evidence that this is possible, thanks to MINDWALKER exoskeleton! One of the partners of this European funded project, @DelftBioroboticsLab, just uploaded this video: Kicking a soccer ball with MINDWALKER exoskeleton.

EU researchers are working since a while in the area of BCI and other technologies for rehabilitation.  There are several EU projects dedicated to developing an exoskeleton or another solution to “walk again”, bringing already concrete results and hopes for many researchers, doctors, patients and families.

Here is just a glimpse:

MINDWALKER: mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton to enable people paralysed by a spinal cord injury walk again

The project combined 3 different field of expertise (BCI technologies, Virtual Reality, Exoskeleton Mechatronics and Control) with the ultimate goal to put paralysed people back on their feet again.

But it could also find applications in the rehabilitation of stroke victims and in assisting astronauts rebuild muscle mass after prolonged periods in space.

Have a look at this great video to learn more!

Interesting right? More info on Digital Agenda for Europe, in an article dedicated to MINDWALKER project.

MINDWALKER is not the only EU project involved in helping paralyzed people. Have a look at the BETTER project: it aims to improve physical rehabilitation therapies of gait disorders in stroke patients based on Brain-Neural Computer Interaction (BNCI) assistive technologies- with robotic exoskeletons.

The robot exerts physical stimulation -at the periphery- as a function of targeted neural activation patterns This intervention is expected to result in reorganizations in the cortex. Such TOP-DOWN therapeutic treatment would aim to encourage plasticity of the a‑ected brain structures to improve motor function.

Have a look here!

Not only walking but becoming more independent, it is essential for people with disabilities. The BackHome project  helps end-users accomplish goals that are otherwise impossible, difficult, or create dependence on a carer.

BackHome @BackHomeFP7 project raise hope for people with diverse disabilities: quadriplegics, hemiplegics; people affected by speech disorders, such as aphasia; people with dementia; people affected by visual and hearing functional diver­sity; people affected by cognitive functional diversity, such as Alzheimer or Parkinson diseases; minimum res­ponse people or locked-in persons.

Have a look at the video depicting Paul’s way back home.

More information on this project, in Maria SÁNCHEZ’s (Project Manager in Barcelona Digital Technology Centre) blogpost on Digital Agenda for Europe.

And talking about brain/neuronal computer interaction, we should not forget WAY project: not only develop ready-to-use Brain-Neural Computer Interfaces (BNCI) for the disabled; the interfaces and systems developed within the project will be functionally evaluated by amputees and patients with hand dysfunctions (e.g. spinal cord injured, acquired brain injured, brachial plexus injured) exploiting two complementary demonstrators: a multifunction hand prosthesis or a hand exoskeleton (that we call Hand Assistive Devices: HAD).

Give yourself the chance to be amazed and have a look at the project video!

These projects bring certainly hope, joy and transform some of the most futuristic dreams of the mankind into reality!

And talking about science-fiction becoming reality, have a look at what the project VERE a fusion of the human body with virtual or physical surrogates!

Unbelievable, right? Have a look at this video and see a world without limits!

This investment in #BNCI will certainly not stop with FP7, as EU continues investing heavily in research, via the new Horizon 2020 programme .Have a look at the Work Programme, 5. Leadership in enabling and Industrial Technologies, i. Information and Communication technologies, ICT 22 – 2014: Multimodal and Natural computer interaction. One of the main measures in this direction is the creation of BNCI Horizon 2020, a Coordinated and Support Action, foster collaboration and communication among eight major European BCI research institutions, three industrial partners, and two end user organizations to create a roadmap to support the European Commission in defining the research priorities in the field.

Research on #BNCI and #BCI, no matter if bringing together partners from EU only or from all a-over the globe, will certainly transform the wildest and most impossible dreams of patients and families all over the world into reality sooner that we can hope for.

And the winner of this planetary match will certainly be the entire human kind!

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