A man who is paralyzed talks about the opening kick in tomorrow’s World Cup

People around the globe will be watching the World Cup Opening Ceremony tomorrow to cheer on their country’s team, but I have a more personal reason to tune in: it’ll be my chance to see the real Avatar in action.

You remember the movie Avatar, right? The sci-fi film won three Oscars in 2009, and it showed Avatars – essentially, separate bodies – being controlled by the human brain.

In the movie, the controller of the Avatar enters a type of portal that looks like a tanning bed. Once they’re in there, the portal reads their brain waves, and then they can control the Avatar. During one of the first scenes, a man who is paralyzed from the waist down lies down in the portal, encompasses the ability to control his own Avatar, and can hardly contain his excitement.

It’s been so long since he was able to walk by himself that his brain is not used to controlling his legs. Initially he has trouble walking in the Avatar. It takes time for him to learn to walk and run again, but fairly quickly, he is running around the planet Pandora in the Avatar. It is absolutely incredible, and when I — a man who is paralyzed from the neck down — saw the character in the movie being able to lie down in this portal, and then control a fully functional body, I almost broke down in tears.

That scene in the movie had a profound impact on me. The idea of being able to perform functions — running, jumping, or skipping — by simply lying in a portal that would read my brainwaves. If only I could have that opportunity!

Now, five years after the film, the idea of being able to control a body with one’s mind is not just an idea produced by James Cameron, but it is a reality. In Brazil tomorrow a paralyzed man will roll onto the soccer field for the 2014 World Cup ceremonial opening kick in his wheelchair,. This man will rise from his chair, walk a few steps, and kick a soccer ball using a mind-controlled exoskeleton.

Let the shockwaves of excitement role throughout your veins: it is real! The ever driving determination to cure paralysis is an amazing endeavor, one that many scientists throughout the globe work day and night to accomplish, and one I hope for each and every day. There are many different ways to improve the lives of people with paralysis, but this is one of the most innovative creations I’ve seen.

The thought of this Walk Again project leaves a permanent brightness in my soul. To know there are people in this world that have the drive and determination to cure paralysis and improve the lives of people with disabilities is incredible.

With every single day, the world gets better, and we all take a few steps forward. This time, those steps forward just might be with the assistance of a mind controlled exoskeleton. What do you think of this invention? I know there are some who think that the effort might be promising too much, too soon, but leave no second guessing here — I’m in!


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  1. موسسه حقوقی Says:

    It is excellent time for it to make a few programs into the future and it’s time and energy to feel very special. We have discover the following organize and when I could I personally want to suggest people several interesting issues as well as suggestions. You could can create following reports in regards to this report. I need to continue reading reasons for this!

  2. Ben Trockman Says:

    It really was amazing, guys. I’m going to attach the link to a GIF photo of the first kick.

    Surrounded by a robot looking machine – with his arms rested on the large troughs, and his legs surrounded by light weight heavy-duty material – the young man looks down, and extends his leg about 8 inches to kick the soccer ball a good 6 feet.

    After watching the ball roll away from his foot that he moved with his mind, he looks up into the crowd, throws his fist up in the air, and celebrates with a ecstatic yell! It had to be an amazing moment, and an incredible feeling for that young man.


    Ben Trockman

  3. Beth Finke Says:

    Did anyone see this on TV yesterday? Very eager to hear what it looked like, and how the kick went.

  4. Larry Says:

    What time and channel will this come on?

  5. Larry Says:

    Hi Ben, thanks for posting this on Facebook and making this blog and bringing it to the attention of people. You know I am in the same boat as you except I am paralyzed from the down and my hands. But that movie also got me very excited and wish I could do something like that, but to hear that they are actually doing it and that mean you might get a will to someday get to try that is just astounding! Thanks for your post then I’m not a soccer fan but I’m definitely going to watch this.

  6. Ronda Stone Says:

    The potential of this is astounding! I read about it on the Crossroads website a few months ago. I left my son a note to be sure to record it, I can’t wait to see it.

  7. Ben Trockman Says:

    Patricia and Carl,

    I am in the same boat as you – not a huge soccer fan – but this is an event that I will not miss! What a very cool experiment, and something to show that technology never stops.

    Thanks for posting!


  8. Carl Says:

    I’d heard about this guy doing the opening kick, and now I appreciate hearing about it from your point of view. Thanks for this blog post.

  9. Patricia Wright Says:

    Ben – clearly I have not been following the World Cup opening ceremonies closely enough, although embarrassingly I did know that Jennifer Lopez had pulled-out of the opening performance. I may not catch the opening ceremonies live but will absolutely be looking for the clip of the opening kick!

  10. One thing I’ll be watching for in the World Cup | Safe & Sound blog Says:

    […] Co-workers at Easter Seals thought it would be good to publish a post about this World Cup exoskeleton thing, but before I could decide who to ask to write it, I had to figure out what an exoskeleton is. Bleacher Report to the rescue! A blog post there explains. They’re connecting the human brain with machines, with the hopes of using brain waves to allow the paralyzed to communicate with a robotic exoskeleton. This exoskeleton, in turn, will allow the individual to stand up like soccer Voltron and kick the dog-tar out of the first ball in Sao Paulo. That’s Ben Trockman. Read his post at the Easter Seals blog. […]

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