Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Brazilian researchers have developed a wheelchair that can be controlled through small facial, head or iris movements. The team at Faculdade de Engenharia Elétrica e de Computação da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (FEEC/Unicamp) says the technology could help people with cerebral palsy, those who have suffered a stroke or live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other conditions that prevent precise hand movements.
The team started to look into brain-computer interface (BCI) techniques (the acquisition and processing of signals that allow communication between the brain and an external device) in 2011. The group then decided to test those techniques in a real life situation.
The researchers built their prototype from a standard motored chair, removed the joystick and equipped it with sensors that can gauge the distance between walls and other objects, and pick up variations on floor surface.
A notebook that sends commands directly to the chair using a 3D camera running on Intel's RealSense technology was installed, which caters for interaction with a computer through facial and body expressions. RealSense is a stand-alone camera that uses depth-sensing technology and can be attached to any computer. The set includes a standard camera, an infrared laser projector, an infrared camera and a microphone array.
"The camera can identify more than 70 facial points around the mouth, nose and eyes. By moving these points, it is possible to get simple commands, such as forward, backward, left or right and, most importantly, stop," says the researcher Eleri Cardozo. Voice interaction is also possible, but the researchers say it less reliable because of differences in voice timbre and ambient noise.
The chair was also equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna that allows a caregiver to steer the equipment remotely through the internet, which could be handy should a wheelchair user get tired.
For patients with more serious conditions where facial movement is not possible, the team is also looking into a BCI technology that can pick signals directly from the brain through external electrodes and turn them into commands, though this type of equipment has not been added on the robotic chair yet.
The research team recently received extra funding to move forward with the project so it can be adapted and marketed in Brazil within the next two years. "Our objective is that the final product costs, at most, twice as much as joystick-controlled models, which sell for around R$7,000 (US$1,994)." To do that, a start-up called Hoo-Box has been created, which will focus on developing the Wheelie system further.
The researchers presented their project at the Third Brainn Congress in the city of Campinas, Brazil, in April.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The ALS Association 2016 Clinical Conference call for presentations and posters is now open. Submissions will be accepted until May 27, 2016.
This conference will be a two-day clinical conference for allied health professionals, clinic coordinators, practice administrators and social workers.
The conference will focus on exchanging information on best practices and emerging trends in ALS care. Updates on adaptive technologies, respiratory devices, options for augmentative communication, end-of-life, psychological and allied health issues will also be featured.
Intended inference participants include speech language pathologists, social workers and counselors, nurses, assistive technology specialists, physical and occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, physicians, and research coordinators.
We welcome abstracts for platform (speaking) presentations of a variety of ALS-relevant topics: innovative approached to clinical management, potential solutions to challenges faced by people living with ALS, family/caregiver support and outreach strategies. Individual speakers, panel discussion, and research updates are welcome. Speakers should plan on a 30 or 30 minute time slot. All accepted speakers and poster presenters will be offered complimentary registration for the conference.
Suggested topics for the 2016 Clinical Conference (please note these are only suggestions. We welcome ANY ALS Clinical Submission)
Introduction to ALS
Physical Activity for People with ALS
Genetics in ALS
Research and Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials in ALS (past, present, future)
National ALS Registry
Adaptive and Assistive Technology
Outreach programs to Underserved Areas
Nutrition Management and PEGs
Genetic Counseling and Testing
Palliative Care and Hospice Services
Cognitive and Behavioral Assessment and Management
Respiratory Decisions and Options Along the Journey
Psychosocial Issues in ALS
Quality of Life Issues
Issues of End of Life Care
Communication Challenges and Strategies
Scientific Investigation of Alternative Treatments
Mobility and Activities of Daily Living
Diagnosis and Management of ALS/MND in Spectrum in Clinic
Speech and Swallowing Interventions and/or Techniques
Social Work Practices and Programs
Support for Children, Teen, and Young Adults
Assessing and Meeting Caregiver Needs
Intimacy and Spirituality in ALS
Care Management and Professional Boundaries
Insurance and Financial Resources
Financial Issues – Health and Life Insurance Resources
Funding for Assistive Technology
How to Ensure that Insurance Overs Prescribed Durable Medical Equipment
Updates on Medicare Changes
Skilled vs. Custodial Home Healthcare coverage – Medicare/Medicaid/Private Insurance
Supporting Professional Caregivers
Preventing Professional Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
Energize and Revitalize – Remaining Positive at Work
Maintaining Work/Life Balance
Full details about the conference can be found in the official flyer:
On line information can be found at: http://www.alsa.org/healthcare-professionals/clinical_conference