Brain-Computer Interface helped Patients with Complete Locked-In Syndrome to Use Their Mind for Communication
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Brain-Computer Interface helped Patients with Complete Locked-In Syndrome to Use Their Mind for Communication

Earlier, it is widely believed that patients with complete locked-in syndrome – a paralyzed condition where the patient is awake but can’t communicate verbally – usually lives an unsatisfied life and lacks those grants which are mandatory for living a basic quality life. But a new research, conducted by a team of European scientists have falsified the time-honored belief and claimed that patients suffering from complete locked-in disorder use their brains for communication.

Patients suffering from complete ‘locked-in’ syndrome go through a complete stage of paralysis, where all most of the voluntary muscles in their body stop functioning. They neither can move or speak nor can make any facial expressions. They are also incapable of moving their eyes to converse. Since decades, doctors and scientists supposed that such people were discontented with their standard quality of life and lack the goal-directed thoughts, which are essential to communicate.

But, the new groundbreaking study conducted by analysts at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland, has upturned the aforementioned two widespread fallacies and claimed that patients with the complete locked-in disease do have the goal-oriented thinking – essential for expressing their feelings to others. Moreover, the researchers also claimed that they, despite their condition, are also “contented” with their lives.

The research paper was recently published in Science journal of “PLOS Biology”. For conducting the study, the researchers took four individuals, suffering from complete locked-in syndrome into account. All the four participants are suffering from the syndrome because of ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Each of the partakers then equipped with a non-enveloping brain-computer interface. The brain-computer interface is a cap crammed with multiple high-end sensors and some tangled wires.

The interface uses the Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Electroencephalography (EEG) for measuring the blood oxygenation and electrical movements in the brain. As the blood oxygenation and electrical activities in the brain alter at the moment when the patient thinks “yes” or “no.” Following calibration, the patients were capable of responding to the questions with simple “yes” or “no” using their mind, said one of the associate researchers of the study.

Commenting on this report, Professor Niels Birbaumer from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva and the lead author of the research said, “The technique, we used throughout the research allowed the patients to do basic communications through their mind and thoughts.”