Managing Communication for People with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: The Role of the Brain-Computer Interface

Gaye Lightbody, Brendan Allison, Paul McCullagh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative neurological condi-tion categorized as an orphan disease and at present the primary treatment is managing symptoms. It leads to severe paralysis, resulting in the need for the patient to use assistive technologies to support them in their daily activities. When the condition of disease is severe mainstream technologies may no longer offer the support required due to a need for reliable residual movement. Brain computer interfaces (BCI) have the potential to become a powerful assistive technology for some such individuals with the most severe of neuromuscular disorders. With only ‘thought’ as an input medium the user could harness control and communication. Undoubtedly the availability of such a technology could have a major positive impact in the life of a patient with ALS and support their inclusion in the world and people around them. However, despite decades of research and development BCIs are still not a common place option. Many recent advances have been made but some factors still mitigate against widespread deployment of BCI. This chapter will give an introduction, setting the background of BCI, and gives a short discussion on the hindrances of BCI technology, balanced with thoughts about its potential, challenges and hopes for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRare Diseases in the Age of Health 2.0
EditorsRajev Bali, Lodewijk Bos, Michael Christopher Gibbons, Ibell Simon
Place of PublicationBerlin
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-38642-8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Oct 2013


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