Assistive devices for patients with latestage ALS unveiled by MOST

Two locally developed systems for helping patients with latestage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis communicate were unveiled by the Ministry of Science and Technology Aug. 16 in Taipei City.

The eyecontrolled device and a braincomputer interface were created under the auspices of the MOST's Breakout program in conjunction with a team led by National Taipei University of Technology professor Liu Yihung.

According to Liu, most current assistive technologies are designed for ALS patients in the early or middle stages of the disease. In contrast, the new devices can be used even when most voluntary muscles have become paralyzed, he said, adding that the systems will significantly improve the lives of those living with the rare neurological disease.

The optical device is designed for patients capable of blinking or performing small eye movements. It works by using the latest eyetracking technology to navigate a menu and select from options.

Intended for patients who are almost completely incapable of movement, the braincomputer interface monitors users' brainwaves through an electrode cap, with signals interpreted as answers to yes or no questions. In the future, the team hopes to further develop the system to allow users to select their responses.

Launched last year, the Breakout program involves three R&D projects proposed by experts and selected by public polling. Future initiatives will focus on aiding visually impaired passengers on buses and implementing early interventions for developmentally delayed children in rural areas, according to the MOST.

Source: Taiwan Today