Walk Again Project

The main goal of Walk Again Project (FINEP – Covenant No: 01.12.0514.01) is to demonstrate the brain-machine interfaces potential for clinical use in motor rehabilitation of people with paralysis caused by neurological damages.

According to IBGE, approximately four million Brazilians suffer with severe motor disorders that lead to body paralysis. Nowadays, there is no cure for several devastating cases of paralysis, such as those occurred due to complete or incomplete spinal cord injury that prevents individuals to functionally perform their activities, making them inactive, dependent, and excluded from society.

In the last decades, several attempts have been performed to create effective therapies for individuals with spinal cord injury. The researches were focused in for great areas: neuroprotection, regeneration, cellular transplant and rehabilitation, even though that nowadays these areas still do not provide therapies that improve functional capacity of paralyzed patients.

Recently, brain-machine interfaces (IBMs) were recognized in all world as a great potential mean for the treatment of patients with spinal cord injury, aiming the mobility restoring both for upper and lower limbs.

In Brazil, the Walk Again Project is managed by AASDAP since 2012. In 2014, the first exoskeleton controlled by brain activity and with tactile sensation was developed. Such neuroprosthetics, worldly known as “exoskeleton”, uses motor commands extracted from cortical electrical activity of the patients.

Coordinated by the neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, Walk Again Project has been designed since 1999. Later on, with the implantation of an international consortium, the project obtained a new challenge: presenting the world, for the first time, with an exoskeleton giving the initial kick controlled by a person during the ceremony of World Cup 2014 opening.

After months of dedication, both from the multi-professional team and eight program volunteer patients, the exoskeleton was shown to the world in June 12, directly from Arena Corinthians. Representing other volunteers, Juliano Pinto gave the initial kick of the championship for more than 70 thousand viewers, in addition to billions of TV spectators in all world. With this kick controlled through brain activity, the team composed of more than 150 professionals from several parts of the world, guided by Dr. Nicolelis, could celebrate the beginning of a great science progress. This was just the beginning of a future where people will rely on Brain-Machine Interfaces to guarantee better quality of life.

The main laboratory of the Walk Again Project is located in São Paulo. In order to continue this research, the project voluntary patients keep attending to the program weekly, where they are accompanied by a multi-professional team, in addition to project researches.

PARTNERS

The Walk Again Project International Consortium was composed by the following institutions:  

  • Duke University Center for Neuroengineering (USA);
  • Neuroprosthetic Center at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne – EPFL (Switzerland);
  • Technical University of Berlin (Germany);
  • Technical University of Munich (Germany);
  • École Superieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles de La Ville de Paris (France);
  • Grupo de robótica – ATR Laboratories, Kyoto (Japan);
  • International Neuroscience Network Foundation (INNF);
  • Duke Immersive Virtual Environment, Duke University (USA);
  • Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and Controls Laboratory, UCDavis, (USA);
  • Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital, Health Care Kentucky University, (USA);
  • Association for Assistance of Disabled Children – AACD (Brazil);
  • Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal – IIN-ELS (Brazil);
  • BIA Turnkey Systems, Paris (France);
  • Laboratoire de Systèmes Robotiques, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne – EPFL (Switzerland);
  • Colorado State University (USA);
  • CNPq – Institutos Nacionais de Ciência e Tecnologia – INCEMAQ (Brazil).

RESEARCH SUPPORT

The Walk Again Project is supported by the Brazilian Financing Agency for Studies and Projects (Finep)

SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION

Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.; Donati, Ana R. C.; Shokur, S.; Morya, E. Brain-Machine-Interface Based Neurorehabiltation Induces Partial Neurological Recovery in Paraplegic Patients. In: 9th World Congress for Neurorehabilitation, 2016, Philadelphia.

Donati, A.R.C.; Shokur S.; Campos, D. S. F.; Pires, Cristhiane G.; Fischer, D.; Morya, E.; Nicolelis, M.A.L. Improvement of Trunk Stability in Chronic Paraplegic Patients After Long-Term Training With Robotic Orthotic Trainers. In: 9º WCNR – World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation, 2016, Philadelfia.

Shokur S.; Donati, A. R. C.; Moioli, R. C.; Nicolelis, M. A. L. Tactile Feedback Restoration Using Sensory Substitution In Chronic Paraplegic Patients. In: 9th World Congress for Neurorehabilitation, 2016, Philadelphia.

V. Braga, A. Donati, S. Shokur, M. Nicolelis. A melhora da função intestinal dos pacientes com lesão medular crônica submetidos a treinamento de neuroreabilitação de longo prazo. 25° Congresso Brasileiro de Medicina Física, São José do Rio Preto, 2016.

D. Campos, A. Donati, D. Fisher, S. Shokur, M. Nicolelis. Programa de reabilitação ativa para lesão medular completa: impacto sobre a recuperação neurológica motora. 25° Congresso Brasileiro de Medicina Física e Reabilitação, São José dos Campos, 2016.

P. Augusto, C. Gitti, A. Donati, S. Shokur, M. Nicolelis. Mudanças na imagem corporal de pacientes com lesão medular crônica e motoramente completa após experimento com realidade virtual. 25° Congresso Brasileiro de Medicina Física e Reabilitação, São José dos Campos, 2016.

Ana R. C. Donati, Solaiman Shokur, Edgard Morya, Debora S. F. Campos, Renan C. Moioli, Claudia M. Gitti, Patricia B. Augusto, Sandra Tripodi, Cristhiane G. Pires, Gislaine A. Pereira, Fabricio L. Brasil, Simone Gallo, Anthony A. Lin, Angelo K. Takigami, Maria A. Aratanha, Sanjay Joshi, Hannes Bleuler, Gordon Cheng, Alan Rudolph, Miguel A. L. Nicolelis. Long-Term Training with a Brain-Machine Interface-Based Gait Protocol Induces Partial Neurological Recovery in Paraplegic Patients. Scientific Reports. 6, 30383; doi: 10.1038/srep30383 (2016).

Shokur, S; Gallo, S; Moioli, R; Bouri, M; Morya, E; Bleuler, H; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. Inducing paraplegic patients to perceive distinct ground textures using tactile feedback generated by virtual feet. In: 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015, Chicago. 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015.

Moioli, Renan Cipriano; Shokur, S.; Gallo, S.; Brasil, Fabricio Lima; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L. . Cortical incorporation of virtual legs in spinal cord injured patients. In: 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015, Chicago. 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015.

Aratanha, Maria Adelia; Shokur, S.; Brasil, Fabricio Lima; Donati, A. C.; Gallo, S.; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. Closed loop brain controlled avatar training for locomotion with spinal cord injured patients. In: 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015, Chicago. 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015.

Donati, A. C.; Shokur, S.; Morya, Edgard; Gitti, C. M.; Augusto, P. B.; Campos, D.; Yoshihara, D.; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L. . Twelve months of physical rehabilitation protocol integrating brain controlled locomotor training and tactile feedback for patients with chronic spinal cord injury. In: 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015, Chicago. 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015.

Brasil, Fabricio Lima; Shokur, S.; Aratanha, Maria Adelia; Moioli, Renan Cipriano; Donati, A. C.; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. Walk using single leg control at BMI-driven exoskeleton. In: 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015, Chicago. 45th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2015.

Brasil, F.; Moioli, R. C.; Shokur, S.; Fast, K.; Lin, A.; Peretti, N.; Takigami, A.; Lyons, K.; Zielinski, D.; Sawaki, L.; Joshi, S. ; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. The Walk Again Project: An EEG/EMG training paradigm to control locomotion. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Lin, A. ; Schwarz, D. ; Sellaouti, R. ; Shokur, S. ; Moioli, R. ; Brasil, F. ; Fast, K. ; Peretti, N. ; Takigami, A. ; Gallo, S. ; Lyons, K. ; Mittendorfer, P. ; Lebedev, M. ; Joshi, S. ; Cheng, G. ; Morya, Edgard ; Rudolph, A. ; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L. . The walk again project: Brain-controlled exoskeleton locomotion. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Moioli, R. C.; Brasil, F.; Shokur, S.; Lin, A.; Fast, K.; Peretti, N.; Takigami, A.; Schwarz, D.; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. The Walk Again Project: Analysis of brain activity of spinal cord injury patients during training with a BMI. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.; Shokur, S.; Lin, A.; Moioli, R. C.; Brasil, F.; Peretti, N.; Fast, K.; Takigami, A.; Morya, Edgard; Cheng, G.; Sawaki, L.; Kopper, R.; Schwarz, D.; Gallo, S.; Lebedev, M.; Joshi, S.; Bleuler, H.; Rudolph, A. The Walk Again Project: Using a Brain-Machine Interface for establishing a bi-directional Interaction between paraplegic subjects and a lower limb exoskeleton. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Sawaki, L.; Donati, A. C.; Nogueira, A. N.; Garabello, C.; Gitti, C. M.; Campos, D.; Yoshihara, D.; Pereira, G. A.; Araujo, I.; Augusto, P. B.; Tripodi, S.; Morya, Edgard; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L. Novel rehabilitative strategy to facilitate EEG-triggered locomotor training in chronic spinal cord injury patients: Preliminary results of an ongoing study. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Shokur, S.; Gallo, S.; Olivier, J.; Takigami, A.; Lin, A.; Fast, K.; Moioli, R.; Brasil, F.; Morya, Edgard; Cheng, G.; Bleuler, H.; Nicolelis, Miguel A. L.. The walk again project: Sensory feedback for brain controlled exoskeleton. In: 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014, Washington. 44th Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2014.

Zielinski, D.; McMahan, R. P.; Shokur, S.; Morya, Edgard; Kopper, R.. Enabling Closed-Source Applications for Virtual Reality via OpenGL Intercept Techniques. In: 7th Workshop on Software Engineering and Architectures for Realtime Interactive Systems, 2014, Minneapolis. 7th Workshop on Software Engineering and Architectures for Realtime Interactive Systems, 2014. v. 7.