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Brain-computer Interface May Help Educate Cerebral Palsy Kids

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The intelligence of an individual affected by cerebral palsy (CP) may be higher than what that person’s cognitive impairment might suggest. Thanks to a newly developed helmet fitted designed with a brain-computer interface, children with CP may soon have access to a device that assures they receive a level of education and therapy matched to their true abilities.

Wearable Sensing, a California-based firm devoted to the development of wearable sensing technology and its potential applications, has joined forces with Neurable, a group associated with the University of Michigan, in creating a helmet loaded with sensors that uses Neurable’s software to tap into cognitive process related to decision-making that can help children with cerebral palsy score better on Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.

The device reportedly is being demonstrated in a debut at the South by Southwest festival.

Ramses Alcaide, who is reported in an article posted by MedCityNews as co-founder and chief executive officer of the Michigan-based business, offered an explanation about the technology: If, for example, a person is shopping at a grocery store and wants to buy a particular box of cereal, when that box is identified on the shelf, the brain makes a connection, even if seen only through the shopper’s peripheral vision. The entire process reportedly occurs within 300 milliseconds.

During the demonstration at the South by Southwest festival, the person who used the device during the test reportedly wore a helmet embedded with sensors. The helmet was connected to a software program running on a laptop computer. According to the MedCityNews account, the screen showed the Peabody test with images marked 1-4. The numbers flashed and the test participant focused on the number that matched her answer. If the test showed an image that didn’t match her answer, she focused on an “X” that rejected that choice.

MedCityNews also notes that roughly 50% of children with cerebral palsy have an intellectual deficit, according to Alcaide. Providing a way to generate a test score that reflects an individual’s true abilities can help assure that person receives an education that reflects those abilities, as well as a way to assure a person affected by CP receives physical therapy that matches their abilities. These two factors, according to Alcaide, can make a significant difference for those individuals throughout the rest of their lives.

In addition to children with CP, the company also reportedly believes the device may be able to help children with autism test better, in addition to being useful for people who have suffered brain trauma or a stroke.

Alcaide says the company is currently seeking funding to create a commercial version of its  brain-computer interface software.

[Source: MedCityNews]