Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Band rocks out to help ill mum (w/ #MND) speak through eye gaze technology


Musical fundraiser: Angela Fung with husband Daniel

Stan Granite: MP Rob Wilson with (l-r) Greg Eaton, Colin Stewart, Mike Ryan and Anthony Giblin

A ROCK band is drumming up support for a mum-of-four with an incurable debilitating disease who wants to raise up to £6,000 for a revolutionary machine to communicate with her family.
Stan Granite will perform next month in aid of Angela Fung, who has motor neurone disease and left her teaching job at St Anne's Primary School, Caversham, in January with the illness getting progressively worse.
The disease damages the nervous system and attacked her vocal chords and has left Angela, 53, in a wheelchair.
Her family is trying to raise money for a high-tech computer - allowing her to type using her eyes and converting the written words into speech.
Angela wrote: "I cannot do anything for myself, I have to be hoisted, fed and cleaned.
"My speech has deteriorated so much that even my husband and my sons don't undertsand me any more.
"That is why this 'Eye Gaze' machine it so important to me, it is giving me the chance to be a mum again, a wife again and a friend."
Husband Daniel, who quit work as a telecommunications engineer to care for her full time, added: "It will help her a lot, it's becoming harder to understand what she is saying.
"She will be able to email, use Facebook and Skype and communicate with friends and relatives."
The NHS has agreed to fund half the £12,000 cost, with the Motor Neurone Disease Association hoping to help the couple by paying part of the remainder. But Angela and Daniel also have everyday costs to meet because their application for continuing healthcare was rejected by the NHS earlier this year.
The couple, who live with their four children aged 15 to 24 in Caversham Park were ruled out because of their £26,000 savings, but are paying out more than £800 a month on benefits of around £500.
Daniel added: "It is very inflexible, the money we saved was for our future and it will run out. We have been using our savings for the last two or three years and also have our children to support."
Reading's Stan Granite, who play rock covers, has organised a Rockin' for Angela concert on Saturday, December 15, at St Anne's School Hall.
It is made up of accountant Greg Eaton, business consultant Colin Stewart, scientist Anthony Gibli and Pack and Send UK chief executive Mike Ryan, who will be joined by the Mordecai Smyth Players.
Reading East MP Rob Wilson, a critic of the NHS funding decision, joined the band at rehearsals at last week.
Tickets at £10, and £5 for children, are available from the school, Pack and Send or by emailing rockinforangela@packsend.co.uk

A Leap Forward in Brain-Controlled Computer Cursors

From: Stanford University - 11/18/2012

By: Kelly Servick


Stanford University researchers have developed ReFIT, an algorithm that improves the speed and accuracy of neural prosthetics that control computer cursors. In a side-by-side comparison, the cursors controlled by the ReFIT algorithm doubled the performance of existing systems and approached the performance of a real arm. "These findings could lead to greatly improved prosthetic system performance and robustness in paralyzed people, which we are actively pursuing as part of the FDA Phase-I BrainGate2 clinical trial here at Stanford," says Stanford professor Krishna Shenoy. The system uses a silicon chip that is implanted in the brain. The chip records "action potentials" in neural activity from several electrode sensors and sends the data to a computer. The researchers want to understand how the system works under closed-loop control conditions in which the computer analyzes and implements visual feedback taken in real time as the user neurally controls the cursor toward an onscreen target. The system can make adjustments in real time while guiding the cursor to a target, similar to how the hand and eye work in tandem to move a mouse cursor. The researchers designed the algorithm to learn from the user's corrective movements, allowing the cursor to move more precisely than in other systems.


Read the entire article and a video (0:25) at:



Krishna Shenoy


Neural Prosthetic Systems Laboratory


A high-performance neural prosthesis enabled by control algorithm design http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3265.html


"Granny pods": Inside housing alternative for aging loved ones


Watch video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505363_162-57554636/granny-pods-inside-housing-alternative-for-aging-loved-ones/

(CBS News) AARP says about 23 million Americans take care of their elderly parents. Many of them have to choose between letting aging parents live alone or moving them into a nursing home.

Now there's now another option that brings families closer -- even if they're not living under the same roof.

When Viola Baez began to need constant care last winter, her daughter Soccorrito Page, would not even consider moving her to a nursing home. Baez told everyone for years, no nursing homes -- not ever.

Page said, "Whenever we had to visit somebody who was in a nursing home, or we drove past one, she said, 'I don't want to be in a place like that.' "

She said it was a "very, very clear" instruction.

Page wanted her mother to live nearby their Alexandria, Va. home, and wanted her to have some independence, so she bought a portable apartment called a "MedCottage." She put the cottage in the yard, right outside the kitchen window and built a 20-foot walkway so Baez can come and go at will.

Page said, "It's her space, but it's still with us."

The MedCottage is basically a three-room apartment equipped like a hospital room. There are safety rails, lighted floorboards, and a wall with a first-aid kit and defibrillator machine.

The structure also comes with three built-in cameras, including one in the ceiling overlooking the kitchen. There's also a camera that's mounted in the floor, and is designed to alert the family in the event that Baez falls.

Ken Dupin, who founded the company, says MedCottage is the formal name for his product, but it's not what most people call it. It's been known as "the Granny pod."

"That wasn't our name," he said. "You don't get to choose your nickname."

Whatever the apartment is called, Dupin believes he's found an answer for millions of baby boomers who are facing both their own retirements and the need to care for their parents.

Dupin said, "We wanted to say, 'There's got to be a better way to do this,' particularly as it involves family. And we feel that this is a very American solution."

The solution can be expensive. Page's cottage cost $125,000, but Page figured that a nursing home would cost more than $60,000 a year, and take Baez where she didn't want to be.

So what does Baez think of her new house? She said, "Well, as long as I live with my family, it's OK."

For Baez, the cottage outside the window represents the safety and care she always wanted, but for millions of other Americans, it's a possible glimpse of the future.