As amazing as it may sound, there is a prototype for a device that needs to be implanted into the tongue of patients and with its help paralyzed people would be able to drive a wheelchair. The patients need to have their tongue pierced by a magnetic stud which looks like an ordinary piercing. However, this will act as a joystick to offer more freedom and mobility to the patients.
The people who already got to try this new device learned to use it very fast. They were also able to guide their wheelchair through an obstacle course just by using this wireless device. These patients say that using the device is intuitive and the people around them thought they have been using it for years because they could handle it quite well.
This new technology is based on an already existing one, known as sip-and-puff. Initially, the technology was used by breathing into a straw, but this new method makes it possible for the patients to get around faster and more accurately.
Until this point the technology has only been used in a highly controlled laboratory setting and in order to know just how effective it really is, there is need to do some extensive assessment in the real world as well. The truth is that the people sitting in a wheelchair don’t have too many options and this is a really promising one.
How does it work?
The user needs a headset that will detect the movement of the magnet in the moment the user moves their tongue. This is connected to the patients’ smartphones. There is an app running on the phone that will make the wheelchair move. It could make the cursor of a computer move just the same.
Why the Tongue?
It is a known fact that even though some patient may have problems moving on their own, most probably they will always be able to move their tongue. The specialists claim that this is an important step towards improving the quality of life of people who have to be struggling with limited ability to control their movement.
What do the Patients have to say?
The majority of patients prefer this method over the sip-and-puff method because in this case there is nothing that they have to wear in front of their face in order to be able to move around.