With the purpose of providing patients with cerebral palsy the possibility of communicating through a technology that decodes the brain's electrical signals, an investigation and the development of the prototype of the device to be used for it have been initiated.
It was thanks to the initiative of Juan Manuel Hernndez, who derived from his thesis project to obtain the title of Engineer in Mechatrnica (by the Professional Interdisciplinary Engineering Unit of the National Polytechnic Institute, Zacatecas Campus (IPN UPIIZ), in Mexico) , this mechanism of expression that has given many families a step in the hope of communicating with those who are now in that condition.
Thus, in an interview conducted by the Conacyt Information Agency, the engineer Hernndez explained that his project is based on the technology that decodes the brain's electrical signals, called electroencephalographs (EEG), which when using the Emotiv EPOC interface sends a signal to a device originally designed as a peripheral accessory for video game consoles, which allows the user to control the development of the game with the thought, and that now visualizes a more laudable end.
It is thanks to the initial support of Dr. Horacio Rostro Gonzlez, academic of the Division of Engineering Irapuato-Salamanca Campus of the University of Guanajuato, who allowed the use of his Emotiv EPOC interface and his laboratory, that the engineer Hernndez confirmed that his project was viable. Thus, in that laboratory tests were carried out from June to August 2014 with the results obtained that confirmed that the Emotiv EPOC interface granted the method of reading data required by the project.
This result made it possible for the Zacatecan Council of Science, Technology and Innovation (Cozcyt) to support the engineer with 50 percent of the total cost of the equipment to continue with the project.
To check the efficiency of the device, an 18-year-old male patient with severe cerebral palsy was the first candidate for project tests. After a series of previous clinical examinations it was determined that the patient could operate without problems the Alternative and Augmentative Communication System (SAAC), being able to issue EEG signal patterns at will and in a perceptible way.
In search of higher quality of the results, the engineer Hernndez created a software to convert the EEG signals to mental commands and then to pulse emulations of the keyboard of a personal computer, where the sound reproduction of the words “s” is activated and "No", depending on the mental action invoked by the patient. This research and development effort allowed positive results to be obtained with the patient, who was able to communicate the phrases "yes" and "no" at will, with 74 percent success per event, on average.
On the other hand, Hernndez clarified that the Emotiv interface had already been used before to develop a SAAC for people with cerebral palsy; however, it had not been specifically applied in patients with severe cerebral palsy.
He indicated that with the communication system implemented, which incorporates the application of the software of his creation, the patient also managed to control a video game, for the first time in his life, by mentally moving a virtual vehicle, which allowed the start of the familiarization process in the use of the system in everyday situations, such as simple conversations and expression of wishes.
Currently, this study is being resumed by Dr. Gema Berenice Gudio Mendoza and Dr. Javier Mauricio Antelis Ortiz, both researchers from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) Campus Guadalajara, who analyze the project with the interest of applying a technology similar with the same patient, to amplify the communication system and even move objects.
The execution of this project to make it a reality will be a great advance for medical science at the hands of technology, which will allow thousands of patients in cerebral palsy condition to express their thoughts, affections and opinions through these devices that, apart from Breaking another paradigm of science will provide a better quality of life for these people.
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