Monday, 13 February 2017

Paralysed Patients Communicate Thoughts via Brain-Computer Interface

Brain-Computer Interface
REUTERS
Healthcare is going through a decisive decade wherein technology is advancing at an incredible pace to enhance the longevity of the human race along with offering some incredible solutions to age old problems. Quite recently a team of scientists has been able to develop a highly advanced brain-computer interface which has the ability to read brain’s blood oxygen level in order to bring communicational abilities to the paralyzed patients.

This interface essentially helps in deciphering the patient’s thoughts and allows them to communicate. During the initial trial of this system scientist has taken help of four patients who are suffering from complete locked-in syndrome wherein they are unable to a single part of their body to facilitate communication. Thereby their thought waves were analyzed to bring responses in either yes or no through a list of questions.
Brain Computer interface (BCI) will transform millions of patient’s life

Researchers have asserted that the brain-computer interface (BCI) developed by them is non-invasive in nature. It will help in effectively transforming lives of millions of patients by giving them an opportunity to express their feeling and opinions. Patients who can only lift their eyes up and down in form of active body movements is classified as enduring locked-in syndrome when even such ability is lost then it results in complete locked-in syndrome. BCI will help such patients in communicating again and with further progress in the technology they will be able regain their body movement.

More details into the development of this system

Scientists has made trail of this system on four patients effectively suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is defined as a progressive motor neuron disease which gradually destroys a patient’s nervous system which controls of the body movement thereby paralyzing him for life. They have published their trial and its finding in the journal on Tuesday called PLOS Biology wherein they provided some of the insightful studies of their trial.

The questions put forwarded to the patients were to be responded in either yes or no and it included basic questions such as whether their husband name is correct or not or are they are happy. The technology used to measure their responses by effectively measuring their blood oxygenation and brain electrical activity was made up of near infrared spectroscopy and the electroencephalography or EEG.

How this system works? 

This particular system devised by the scientists actually keeps a record of the blood flow and oxygen level then calculates how these levels changes during the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses by the patients. Over the time this system learns from this and develops a pattern which is able to accurately predict/calculate patient’s responses with precision.

John Donoghue the director of Wyss Center has appreciated the breakthrough made by the scientists and he states that this could be the first step in helping such patients in regaining their movement. His team has next task at hand that is to develop this particular system and technology further to make it available to wider number of patients suffering from strike, spinal cord injury or ALS.

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