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Neurological Disorders Channel
Reported January 14, 2013

Unlocking Voices Of the “Locked-In”

PORTLAND, Oreg. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Fully aware of his surroundings, but unable to communicate; he’s locked-in.  Now, new technology is helping the accident victim unlock his voice.

A car crash, then a stroke left this champion wrestler, college student, and army communications specialist locked-in.

Now, Greg Bieker communicates with his eyes.

Using a chart, those closest to him can figure out what Greg is saying. 

It’s tedious and time consuming.  Greg can only communicate when someone else is in the room.

Now researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University Brain Institute are using this brain-computer interface to give people like Greg more freedom.

Greg puts on a cap with electrodes.

“The computer detects changes.  That change is noted as basically a mouse click,” Aimee R. Mooney, M.S., CCC-SLP/L at the Oregon Health and Science University, told Ivanhoe.

“Say the word is “the,” when he sees that ‘t’ he needs to think yeah! Or he thinks t and that creates a spike in the brain signal that the computer can recognize,” Betts Peters, Speech-language Pathologist at the Oregon Health & Science University, told Ivanhoe.

Like texting on a smartphone, the technology can predict words. Soon it could also predict whole sentences and possibly do even more for Greg.

“Maybe change the channel in a TV or the volume,” Kelly Jo Stransky, Greg’s caregiver, told Ivanhoe.

We asked Greg why he’s doing this; his response, “to help people less fortunate than himself.”

Brain Institute officials believe locked-in patients are just the beginning.  Currently in trials, this technology could also be used to help people with advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease, severe Parkinson’s, MS, and spinal cord injuries.   MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on  Unlocking Voices of the "Locked-In"

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Aimee R. Mooney

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

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