Wednesday, January 27, 2010

But Can He Talk and Drive the Chair at the Same Time?

Spinal cord injury patient Cruise Bogle controls mobility with tongue

Skimboarding in Florida ended sadly for Cruise Bogle when a wave whipped his board out from under him and sent him crashing into the ocean floor, breaking his neck. Since then, Bogle has been paralyzed from the neck down, but new technology promises to restore some of his movement.

During his stay at a hospital in Atlanta, the man was tapped to test a new wheelchair developed by engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is powered by the patient's tongue because that organ is connected to the brain directly, rather than through the spinal cord, and so remains functional even in quadriplegics, according to CNN.

Bogle's tongue was fitted with a small magnet that works like a mouse pad, with the tongue as the cursor. Moving the tongue forward sends a wireless signal to sensors in a special headset that causes the wheelchair to move forward, while moving the tongue back causes the opposite movement.

"It was awkward at first to control a wheelchair with my tongue, but it got easier as I went on," the 20-year-old told the news provider, adding that the technology is "amazing."

According to the Travis Roy Foundation, which is dedicated to spinal cord injury research, between 250,000 - 400,000 Americans are living with this type of injury and more than 13,000 new cases are reported each year.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that individuals may reduce their risk of a spinal cord injury by driving safely, exercising caution around firearms, preventing falls, and taking precautions when playing sports.

Another organization that can help survivors live thriving lives despite their disability is the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.


No comments:

Post a Comment