New technology allows locked-in patients to communicate
Friday, February 3rd, 2017 | Blog
A groundbreaking form of technology has allowed patients diagnosed with locked-in syndrome to communicate with their families and carers.
Using a form of infrared technology that tested the blood flow of patients’ brains, scientists asked patients a series of yes or no questions. The infrared scanner then looked for patterns between the two different answers.
Scientists asked several simple questions to begin with, asking patients to confirm that “their partner’s name is John” or if “Berlin is the capital of France”. Those patients that correctly answered over 70% of the questions then moved onto a more personal format, with scientists then questioning how happy patients were with their quality of life. All four of the patients answered positively, showing that the syndrome may not be the completely negative experience that many presume it is. The test results can be found here in the Pios Study.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to establish reliable communication with these patients and I think that is important for them and their families. I can say that after 30 years of trying to achieve this, it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life when it worked”, said leading Neuroscientist, Niels Birbaumer.
Ultimately, this means that locked-in syndrome might one day not actually be a disease that completely locks people in. Adrian Owen, another neuroscientist hopes to adapt the technology to those who have been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. The results of this study on locked-in syndrome indicate it is definitely possible.
Photo Credit: Wyss Center, www.wysscenter.ch