K26 — June 2010 — Typing with Brain Waves
Intro: For people who can't talk or communicate because of injury or stroke, their own body can be a prison. What if you could type on a computer screen just by thinking of the letters? Sounds impossible, right? Researchers are now able to do that in a lab. Doctors at Mayo Clinic say one day patients locked in the isolation of their condition may be freed by the power of thought.
"THESE ARE LITTLE METALLIC SENSORS THAT ARE MEASURING ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY FROM THE BRAIN."
TRANSLATING BRAIN WAVES INTO WORDS ON A SCREEN FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T COMMUNICATE.
"THEY KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY. THEY CAN STILL THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO, BUT THEY CAN'T EXPRESS IT. THIS IS TECHNOLOGY THAT WOULD ALLOW PEOPLE LIKE THAT TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE WORLD."
PEOPLE WITH LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE, PEOPLE WHO'VE HAD A STROKE, OR PEOPLE WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES.
MAYO CLINIC DOCTOR JERRY SHIH AND DR. DEAN KRUSIENSKI FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA DEMONSTRATE THE TECHNOLOGY ON THIS VOLUNTEER.
THE VOLUNTEER CONCENTRATES ON A FLASHING LETTER ON THE COMPUTER MONITOR. THIS CREATES AN ELECTRICAL CHANGE IN HER BRAIN WHICH IS SENT TO A COMPUTER. THE COMPUTER PROGRAM TRANSLATES THAT BRAIN SIGNAL INTO THE LETTER ON WHICH SHE WAS FOCUSING. ALLOWING HER TO SPELL AND TYPE JUST BY LOOKING AND THINKING ABOUT THE LETTERS.
"I SPELLED THE WORD GOAL. G.O.A.L."
RIGHT NOW THEY'RE TRANSLATING BRAINWAVES INTO LETTERS ON A SCREEN. BUT DR. SHIH ENVISIONS A DAY WHEN YOUR THOUGHTS WILL DO MUCH MORE.
"IT'S CERTAINLY IN THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY THAT IN THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS YOUR BRAIN WAVES CAN CONTROL AN EXTERNAL DEVICE THAT CAN WALK OVER TO THAT PENCIL, PICK IT UP AND MOVE IT TO WRITE SOMETHING."
DR. SHIH SAYS THE POTENTIAL IS TREMENDOUS FOR TRANSFORMING HOW WE HUMANS INTERACT WITH OUR ENVIRONMENT JUST WITH OUR BRAIN WAVES.
FOR MEDICAL EDGE, I'M VIVIEN WILLIAMS.
Anchor tag: Research is already underway that explores using your brainwaves, your thoughts to move a prosthetic limb or push a wheelchair. Dr. Shih says this technology is in its infancy and may take ten years or more before it is ready for public use. For more information, visit our Website at…
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