Over the year's we've been repeatedly contacted by friends and family members of people in various stages of ALS. They are seeking the help of biofeedback to stay connected with their loved ones as the muscles stop working.
There have been a number of studies and reports, using different approaches to biofeedback or applied psychophysiology to enable 'locked in' patients to communicate. The basic idea is that physiological sensors can detect changes in physiology that the patient voluntarily and intentionally makes-- as means of communicating, just as giving a thumb up or down is a signal. The articles and links below are provided as a service to help pull together some of the information.
We also have a DVD of a workshop presented on the use of brain biofeedback to address this problem, presented by Niels Birbaumer, to our knowledge, the inventor of this approach.
Futurehealth does offer biofeedback technology for sale. We make no promises that these technologies will enable you and your loved ones to communicate. Some people have purchased this equipment in an effort to try, to experiment with the technology. Please be clear that this is an expensive, unproven approach, though there is some research.
One thingseems clear, the earlier a patient gets started with this, before the 'locked in' situation is reached, the better the potential results.
Oddball Science Helps "Locked In" People Communicate
Newswise — University of South Florida psychologist Emanuel Donchin and his students are perfecting ways to help people who are paralyzed yet fully conscious - with intact cognitive systems - communicate via a brain computer interface (BCI). Although the patient is unable to communicate, the electrical activity in their brains is normal. Through the BCI it becomes possible for users to "type" on a "virtual keyboard" using their brain waves.
The BCI, says Donchin, can help patients who suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) - a rare progressive neurological disorder that ultimately leads to a complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body; cerebral palsy; or patients "locked in" following a brain stem stroke.