At last, Amyotrophic lateral sclerotic (ALS) patients find an answer to fight the disease. The credit goes to special brainwave technology breakthrough enabling ALS patients with locked-in syndrome to communicate in a better manner.
ALS disease does extensive damage to the brain and spinal nerve cells, leaving the patient in an almost vegetative state with restricted mobility and speech. They can no longer swallow and breathe in the final stages of the disease.
Strokes and paraplegics are other manifestations. And the worst part of it is the brain functions stay normal. Therefore, new breakthroughs for ALS patients aided by hi-tech devices can be a major medical benediction. Currently, the number of people affected by ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig disease – named after the famous basketball player) every year exceeds a staggering 400000.
Brainwave technology breakthrough is able to pick up people’s brain signals:
In a major breakthrough, Philips and Accenture have come up with proof of concept technology. You need to keep in mind that patients have totally lost the voluntary movement control and they can only use their brainwaves to express their needs.
This is the beauty of brainwave technology breakthrough, which helps patients to use and monitor medical gadgets using brainwaves. The gadget is built using Emotiv wearable technology. It comes in the form of a wireless headset for tracking brainwaves, which gets translated into a comprehensive database connected to a device created by Philips.
This wonderful gadget gives ALS patients more liberty to monitor health conditions. According to Brent Blum, the head of R&D function of Accenture, the proof of concept reveals how Emotive insight brainwave in one hand scans the EEG brain signals and on the other, it can be integrated with tablet apps. He is highly optimistic about the potential of wearable technology, which could be one of the new breakthroughs for ALS patients.
It is no doubt a unique brainwave technology breakthrough that allows the patients to transmit brain commands to other Philips products like lifeline medical alert service, smart TV, and Hue wireless lighting system.
Putting on the Emotiv headset, the patients go through a 15-minute training session every day where they learn to navigate through multiple orientations. This locks the gadget for a particular patient. The marvelous part of the technology is combining the visual thought process and the brain command in the training session.
For example, one can think of a hot air balloon rising while considering the way to “move up”. This should not be an accidental thought that you think of a hot air balloon and the cursor moves up. One has to envisage that thought and dwell on it for some time.
This brainwave technology breakthrough is impressive in the sense that it helps in teaching a patient few simple commands creating a bridge to understand the massive void.
Brain implants can make ALS patients speak:
Brain implants, one of the new breakthroughs for ALS patients, seems to be equally promising as it enables ALS patients to speak. This hi-tech implant has recently enabled an advanced-stage ALS female patient to communicate through brain signaling.
This brain implant enabled the woman to remote control her computer with the brain waves without any assistance. As she could spell only two letters per minute, her caregivers picked up what she meant and fulfilled her needs.
It is a cutting-edge set up to make the brain click with the letter selection by the woman on the display screen of the computer. The woman totally locked in paralysis could maintain communication only through eye movements which blinked to answer “yes” or “no”. This specific signal could be detected by the standard eye-tracking technology.
New mind-reading device to further aid ALS patients:
Among the new breakthroughs for ALS patients, the mind-reading device created by the researchers of the Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan can also enable ALS patients to communicate.
It uses Electroencephalogram (EEG) for brain wave monitoring as the patients spoke, which were matched to the syllables and numbers with machine learning. The technology involving EEG monitored brain waves can recognize the numbers 0-9 with 90% accuracy while the numbers are uttered and 61% accuracy in recognizing 18 Japanese monosyllables.
Speech decoding from EEG signals till date was quite tough due to lack of sufficient data to apply powerful algorithms for machine learning. But this research can yield high performance based on the small dataset.
In near future, this improved technological breakthrough could be applied to read people’s thoughts and convey them to others. The researchers are even hopeful of creating an easily operated device in the next 5 years with smartphone apps integration. Nevertheless, these latest breakthroughs can be really effective in overcoming the communication problem of the ALS along with improving their quality of life.