24-28, April 2016
“Results of a 3 Year Study of a BCI-Based Communicator for Patients with Severe Disabilities”
Pasquale Fedele, Myriam Gioia, Fabio Giannini, Alessandra Rufa
Abstract— The Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology can convert brain electrical signals into commands able to control external devices without the need of any voluntary movement. This can be an innovative solution that allows interaction, especially for patients with pathologies such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy or ischemic/traumatic injuries, unable to use standard Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices because of the loss of limbs movements, gaze control or ophthalmological disorders. Among different approaches of signal analysis, a recent BCI device, Braincontrol Basic Communicator, based on event related desynchronization (ERD) produced by motor imagery (MI), has been recently developed by Liquidweb s.r.l. and used in the current study to overcome physical issues of these patients. The aim of this study was to verify the efficacy of the Braincontrol as an AAC device and to validate the training methodology with regards to patients in locked-in state (LIS). The study was conducted, from 2012 to 2015, on two groups: 42 patients with communication and motility disorder (of these 13 were in LIS and 10 in condition similar to the complete locked-in state, with no feedback and unknown cognitive status) and 63 healthy users. The results of this observation confirm that the device, after the first phase training, is efficient and robust for patients. Trainings have been completed successfully for all the healthy users and patients in initial and severe stage of the disease, only 2 out 42 patients failed the training. In particular, the 2 patients were in the condition similar to the complete locked-in state (CLIS). After this study, 17 locked-in patients
have continued to use the system as a unique tool for communication.