Brain-computer interface helps locked-in patient to communicate again

(ORDO NEWS) — A patient who cannot move a single muscle was able to communicate with healthcare workers using a brain-computer interface, according to a new study.

Man with ALS was able to communicate with loved ones and healthcare workers despite a complete lack of muscle control

Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) gradually lose muscle control. This often results in an inability to speak.

Some people use special systems that translate muscle movements they can still control into messages. One of the most famous examples is Stephen Hawking’s voice synthesizer.

Unfortunately, the progression of ALS can lead to the “locked-in syndrome” (isolation syndrome), in which the patient remains conscious, but cannot respond and respond to external stimuli in any way.

Now, in a new study published in the journal Nature Communications , scientists have announced the successful translation of the brain waves of a person with isolation syndrome into text.

How neuroimplants work in a person with ALS

Scientists have implanted two chips into the brain of a 34-year-old patient with ALS. In the early stages of the study, he was able to modulate brain waves for yes and no answers.

Later, the patient learned to “pronounce” the words by selecting letters. It took about 3 months to train the patient.

The speed of word formation remains extremely low – 131 characters during a two-hour session. However, this is enough to ask him to turn up the music and tell his son that he loves him.

The researchers note that more work is needed to confirm the safety and durability of their development. They also plan to improve the neural interface, making it a faster and more reliable method of communication.


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