Brain-computer Interface (Brain-machine interface)

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Mr Wings

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Hello All,

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with, or information about, brain-computer interfaces? I'm referring to the caps with electrodes on them, worn in order to control computers or other devices using your brainwaves (no movement. Perhaps it's a pipe dream, but it seems like such devices could be useful for communication, such as saying "yes" or "no."

Supposedly there is only one commercially available brain-computer interface (BCI). It's called "intendiX," and is made by G-tec, an Austrian company. The price is supposedly $12,250. There are three versions: one for painting, one for writing, and third one I'm not yet familiar with.

Here's a site that has a short blurb about intendiX, including price:

https://www.engadget.com/2010/03/10/g-tec-intendix-brain-computer-interface-ready-for-consumers-vid/

Here's the website for the company who makes them: intendix.com

Thanks for reading!
 

lgelb

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The vast, vast majority of PALS can communicate some other way, so most only participate in BCI (which is an up and coming modality) for research purposes.

Examples of other ways to communicate/create: switch access to computer, phone or tablet using really any muscle that can be twitched on demand (switches can be taped to the muscle); using the head as a switch; using eye gaze, head mouse or tongue mouse; blinking as a response for verbal questions or to use word boards, using hands if/as able for text-to-speech apps, etc.

A number of PALS are still working in music composition/performance, writing, art, etc. Many use "virtual keyboards" with default or customized layouts with the apps they need, activating each "key" one at a time just as you do.

So before thinking about shelling out for BCI, I'd exhaust other options. We are happy to provide suggestions based on your mom's current capabilities. How is she?

Best,
Laurie
 
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affected

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No experience here, but I reckon that in a few more years, when the price comes down, these types of interfaces will be the option of choice for PALS (unless we beat that with a cure!).

I can only imagine it would be less fatiguing to learn this kind of interface early, rather than progress through a variety of types of technology. That's just my feel on it anyway.
 

lgelb

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I do think that will be true as the technology matures and is economically feasible to start with. And you will control the lights, a wheelchair, all manner of machines with it, like an über-switch.
 

Mr Wings

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Thank you for your helpful replies!

My mom is still able to communicate via blinking for "yes", looking at letters on a letter board, and an eyebrow switch on a headband, which controls a special computer. So for now, she can communicate.

At this point, however, she is considering getting a trach and ventilator. As I understand it, there is a good chance she could eventually become "locked in," losing all ability to communicate due to the loss of all muscle control. In such a situation I would want her to have the ability to communicate her wishes regarding continued use of the ventilator.

So the big question we're tackling is whether or not she should get a trach, and one of the factors in that decision is whether or not she will be able to communicate a year or more down the road.
 

affected

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That's a huge decision.

She could put her wishes in place before she has the trach done though to say what she would want to happen should she become locked in.

It doesn't always happen, but yes it's a possibility and something really worth discussing well in advance.

I actually get really excited about where technology is heading with these interfaces. Just like I wish we had the cure now, I wish the technology that is emerging would hurry up and become readily available.
 

vw-fl

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We have a fellow PALS in our area who has been on a trach for many years. He has tried the intindiX and is currently using a Neuroswitch made by Control Bionics (Speak, surf the web, play music easily | NeuroSwitch features). On the Matt White Cure ALS Foundation Facebook page you can see pictures of Matt using both. Scroll down to April/May 2015 to see Matt using the Neuroswitch and November 2014 to see him using the intindiX.

Hope this helps.

vw-fl
 

ehd42

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Hi Mr Wings

I was in a BCI study about a month ago. Although I was able to input characters into the computer, which is really amazing, character generation was slow as molasses and not at all ready for prime time. In addition, the use of an electrolyte gel was needed for the electrode interface, which meant that I needed to shampoo after using the device if I didn't want to have clumps of dried gel remain in my hair. I looked at the company website you provided but they offered no clinical study indicating that the device has been proven practical for communication or computer control. I found that a single character input took me significantly longer than 15 seconds on average, which was really was frustrating. I agree with Laurie that there are better options out there, and I'm quite skeptical about the company's claims about its device’s speed of operation.

Best wishes

Eliot
 

Mr Wings

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Your replies have been very helpful. I'm gonna look into the Neuroswitch and check out the Facebook videos of it and the intendix.

I believe the intendix requires you to be looking at the screen. If you can look at a computer screen, you can also look at a plain old fashioned letter board, right?

I emailed intendix 9 days ago and haven't heard back. I just emailed them again.
 
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