If you watched the opening ceremonies of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 12, then you couldn’t have missed the seemingly miraculous moment when a paraplegic wearing a robotic suit kicked the first soccer ball of one of the world’s most anticipated sporting events.

It was the first time a paraplegic person has walked on his own using a device controlled entirely with his own brain, and in the days since, it’s given hope to the hundreds of thousands of people around the world confined to wheelchairs.

The feat hits close to home for the Triangle. Much of the innovation, science and technology behind that momentous walk and kick happened in a lab at Duke University and under the tutelage of a professor and neuroscientist named Miguel Nicolelis. When his homeland of Brazil won its bid to host the 2014 World Cup in 2008, he pledged to showcase his 25 years of work to the world. And that he did.

Below are two really cool videos explaining his mission and work. The first announces his World Cup ambitions and the work of his Walk Again Project, a global consortium he formed to assist his efforts. The second is a talk he gave at the TEDMED conference in Washington D.C. in 2012.

We at ExitEvent also enjoyed this in-depth profile of the man and the science behind the exoskeleton in Grantland, the sports and pop culture blog affiliated with ESPN.

We hope to get a peek into Nicolelis’s lab sometime soon. For now, check out the videos.

Laura Baverman


Laura Baverman manages the day-to-day at ExitEvent, writing and editing stories, lining up contributors, overseeing events and representing us in the community. Laura has spent a decade in journalism, most of those years as a business reporter in her hometown Cincinnati. Her Ohio roots run deep, but she’s learning to love the South. Especially sun, all months of the year.