Mind Over Matter | BioMed Mondays 04

In 2007, it was estimated that 15 out of 100,000 males are affected with Becker/Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which are diseases that cause decreased muscle mass and weakness over time.  Some afflicted people become unable to move their body parts.  Their is no cure for this disease and for other diseases that take away people’s ability to move.  What can be done to help such people regain movement?  One possible answer lies in the usage of BCI’s (brain-computer interfaces).

In 2016 a mind-controlled wheelchair was developed by Diwakar Vaish, an Indian roboticist.  It allows people with a paralysis type of disability to move around.  The wheelchair works by using neural impulses from the brain (thought) to allow the user to have control of the wheelchair.  An EEG is used to detect the neural impulses in the brain.  Upon detection of the neural impulses, a BCI is used to process, interpret, and control the wheelchair movement.

The wheelchair has many types of sensors that can detect uneven terrains.  The wheelchair is very well suited for people with a paralysis type disability.  It avoids staircases and steep inclines.  An emergency stop has been placed in the device that allows for the stopping of the wheelchair.  All the user has to do is close his or her eyes.

A mind powered wheelchair is one possible solution for helping such people.  Brain-computer interfaces have gained much traction in the research setting.  BCI’s have been placed in prosthetic arms and legs, allowing users to control movement with their thoughts.  Researchers at John Hopkins University have created such a device allowing users to do move their arm through their mind. As time progresses on, we will see much more innovations helping people with not only paralysis problems but with other neurological based diseases.

Author: Hamza Waheed