Novel communication interfaces are being developed for severely motor-impaired individuals to provide the ability to control devices and to potentially restore limb movements. This interface system is designed for individuals with spinal cord injuries, stroke, ALS, and other central nervous system injuries.
Devices remain in early clinical trials for the treatment of patients following spinal cord injury or those suffering from degenerative neurological diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease).
Where Are They Now
Novel communication interfaces are being developed for severely motor-impaired individuals to provide the ability to control devices and to potentially restore limb movements. This interface system is designed for individuals paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other advanced central nervous system diseases. Current technology utilizes multiple electrodes incorporated into a tiny device that is surgically implanted into areas of the brain that control movement. The neuronal signature from these areas then undergoes decoding to direct the movement of a computer cursor and other assistive devices.
A limited number of patients have demonstrated that they can indeed exert control of external devices with their thoughts and can direct communication technology-such as email-by visualizing the movement of their hand. Now, this technology is giving disabled patients or amputees the ability to operate not only computer screens, but also power wheelchairs and robotic or prosthetic limbs, and is currently in clinical trials to evaluate the feasibility for use of these devices by tetraplegia patients. The technology still suffers many obstacles including multiple surgeries and technology that is limited to lab use only. With continued development and advancement researchers remain optimistic about its future uses.