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Clinical trial shows tongue-controlled wheelchair outperforms popular wheelchair navigation system
Date:11/27/2013

g and the National Science Foundation funded the research. Scientists from Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago were also involved in the study.

"The Tongue Drive System is a novel technology that empowers people with disability to achieve maximum independence at home and in the community by enabling them to drive a power wheelchair and control their environment in a smoother and more intuitive way," said Northwestern co-lead investigator Elliot Roth, M.D, chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Feinberg and the medical director of the patient recovery unit at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "The opportunity to use this high-tech innovation to improve the quality of life among people with mobility limitations is very exciting."

The research team had subjects complete a set of tasks commonly used in similar clinical trials. Subjects in the trials were either able-bodied or people with tetraplegia.

"By the end of the trials, everybody preferred the Tongue Drive System over their current assistive technology," said Joy Bruce, manager of Shepherd Center's Spinal Cord Injury Lab and co-author of the study. "It allows them to engage their environment in a way that is otherwise not possible for them."

Researchers compared how able-bodied subjects were able to execute commands either with the Tongue Drive System or with a keypad and mouse. For example, targets randomly appeared on a computer screen and the subjects had to move the cursor to click on the target. Scientists are able to calculate how much information is transferred from a person's brain to the computer as they perform a point-and-click task. The performance gap narrowed throughout the trial between the keypad and mouse and the Tongue Drive System.

For the first time, the research team showed that people with tetraplegia can maneuver a wheelchair b
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Contact: Brett Israel
brett.israel@comm.gatech.edu
404-385-1933
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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