Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Breakthrough Technology Enables Communication in Late Stage ALS

brain computer interface
For family member of the patients who are suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) will finally have a reason to rejoice. A new revolutionary technology has been developed by the scientists will have them getting back the communicational ability in a noble fashion. ALS is described as a rapidly progressive and intensely rare disease which results in patients gradually their complete motor functionality. It essentially leads to the degeneration as well as ultimate death of the motor neurons which removes the ability to move around or communicate at all.

More than two third trial patients responded correctly

A brain-computer interface (BCI) technology is developed by a team of doctors and scientists which is led by Prof. Nield Birbaumer in Geneva, Switzerland. The BCI technology takes advantage of the ‘functional near infrared spectroscopy’ (fNIRS) which has the ability to enable the communication even in the patients who are in completely locked in syndrome. Their study has been published in a reputed science magazine called PLOS Biology.

Four patients suffering from ALS agreed to be part of this revolutionary technology trial and led to its success. This technology specifically detected responses from the patients on a series of simple question which requires ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer by thinking the answers. This was done by carefully measuring the changes in the blood oxygen level of the brains. A number of earlier theories have cemented the understanding that patients suffering from locked’-n syndrome are completely unable to perform goal directed thinking but researchers found that their technology prompted in getting correct in 70% of the trials.

Technology set to bring a positive impact on human life

This technology was trialed on four patients suffering from the ALS and they were able to regain a kind of communicational ability wherein they provided valuable response to doctors questioning. All these patients are suffering from the locked-in syndrome where they can’t even move their eyelids to reflect any form of communication but this technology enabled them to communicate by carefully analyzing their breathing and other brain patterns. Doctors has emphasized that these patients were on artificial ventilation in order to sustain their as they were unable breathe on their own but their interaction with this technology resulted in positive impact.

The questions asked by the scientists to emit response from the patients were simply straight forward and easier to understand in nature. These questions included ‘Are you happy?” and other questions like that and this questioning was repeated over few weeks with answers being consistently ‘yes’. In one such session a family member of the patient insisted on asking a particular which was whether he would allow his daughter to be married with the boyfriend. This question was repeated over 10 times over different time period and the response was simply ‘no’ for 9 times altogether. One of the doctors associated with this technology and trial stressed that this technology is the first crucial step which help patients with locked in syndrome in regaining movement in future.

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.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Smart Baby Trackers Mostly Unnecessary

owlet
The rising trend among the parents to track and monitor the movements of their off-springs through advanced technological racking equipments and gadgets has been dubbed as waste of money. Now the doctors in US is looking forward to get the smart health trackers for babies to be regulated by a US body which overlooks the development and intricate working of other medical equipments. This might come as a surprise for a number of parents which actively indulge in monitoring their babies in sleep.

How smart baby trackers works? 

The smart baby trackers are made up of highly advanced monitors; are equipped with varied forms of sensors. These sensors are fitted to the baby’s clothing or nappies and it helps in measuring signs which includes the heart rate as well as breathing rhythm during the sleep. The data generated from the trackers are shared with the parents with a phone based app.

A team of doctors from Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia has opined that the baby tracking devices should be approved by The FDA. The major reason for this is attributed to the fact that one of the brands named Owlet sells its baby monitor for $250 and it proactively helps in tracking sleeping baby’s breathing and heart rate. This happens through the help of a sensor which has to be placed inside baby socks. Owlet has stated on its website it has submitted an application on FDA site for approval. But without proper authorization from FDA such devices shouldn’t be allowed to be sold to the general public as it can have adverse impact on the baby’s health.

The health risks of monitoring devices

A neonatologist named Dr Elizabeth Foglia has stated that keeping baby’s healthy shouldn’t be compromised with the use of unapproved health monitoring devices. It has been found that adopting the monitoring devices has not resulted in reducing the risks of the Sids (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Furthermore there are few classes of babies which shouldn’t be brought in close connection with the monitors unless it has been prescribed by the physician. Another problem which might arise from the continuous monitoring of the infant health is that it can results in raising false alarms with regular changes in the body. An infant body is going through rapid development which results in a number of physiological changes.

The risk of false alarms

An analyst at CSS Insight named Ben Wood has shed light on this trend by stating that new parents are seduced by the baby tracker manufacturers. Manufacturers are specifically targeting the young parents by carefully merchandising their gadgets as a tool of offering best start in life to the babies. The health services present in the country are already stretched and such products are only going to make things worse. These products can easily end up in raising the false alarms which will cause undue trouble for the parents and eventually lead to the healthcare facilities based on the futile alarms.