Old 10-15-2013, 11:08 PM #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb What technology/device do pALS need most?

Dear all,

Hello, we are a team of 6 biomedical engineering seniors at Tulane University (New Orleans, LA) and we want to create a device to help pALS become more independent or to improve quality of life. We have met and spoke with some pALS who've visited our classes over the years and we are extremely motivated to help in the best way we know how - engineering.

While we have some preliminary ideas for what we can create, we would really like to hear directly from you all, who have much more experience with ALS than we do, about:

what do pALS really need the most? What are the major frustrations that you would like to be solved? Do you have any worries about devices or technologies failing? nutrition worries?

Just to put our ideas out there, here are a few things we thought of (we know they're vague, some of them may not even be that much of a issue, but that's why we're asking!)
1) eye-controlled headsupport that would allow pALS to look around and better engage with others
2) device to improve gripping strength and fine-motor skills, particularly with driving
3) pAL-controlled feeding device - as opposed to automated
4) eye-controlled robotic arm that could be mounted onto a wheelchair

Any and all responses would be very appreciated, we look forward to reading them!
-Team Hawkeye
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Old 10-16-2013, 01:13 PM #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

Eye or mind control of power wheelchair seating functions so someone can tilt, recline, etc. to relieve pain and avoid pressure sores.

Eye or mind control to actually drive the power wheelchair.

Pie in the sky idea - neck brace that still supports your head, but allows you to turn your head and speak easily (not having significant weight on the jaw.) Bonus when compatible with trach and vent folks.

Eye controlled switch that can be used to trigger a call button for the caregiver. But it uses some form of pattern to trigger it, like a morse code blink, or particular series of eye movements. Bonus to detect small handful of patterns for multiple switches. (For multiple functions like call button, computer on/off, light, etc.)

I like your robotic arm idea too.
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:29 AM #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

I like #4 idea.

# 2 would be awesome. Not sure if you could design it not only to improve grip strength, but to restore it with a device.

But Brian's suggestion for wheelchair seating functions is awesome.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:43 PM #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

Setting a lower bar, a wheelchair headrest that actually remains supportive at different angles of tilt/recline instead of optimal support (vertical and lateral) at only one angle. And supports dozing.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:23 AM #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

...and doesn't need to come off for Hoyer transfers.
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:17 PM #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

A portable invasive breathing machine that conditions the air in such a way as not to cause pneumonia would turn this disease from lethal to survivable. Would give many some extra years to wait for a cure to be found.
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Old 11-20-2013, 12:08 AM #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

I love Brians ideas and number 4.
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Old 12-19-2013, 07:04 AM #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

Rechargable electric blanket that will cover lap/legs and has controls to turn on and off. For those who lived in cold weather this would allow going in and out without tensing up legs and causing PAL more discomfort. Medical emergency blankets are not option, nor car blankets that plug into lighter. Need stand alone light weight rechargable with temperature controls, on/off.
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Old 12-20-2013, 05:37 PM #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What technology/device do pALS need most?

just yesterday my husband, who can not move anything below the neck, was wondering if there was some type of robotics that can be hooked to your hands and arms to make them move again?
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