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Spinal Cord Injury News December 6, 2004

Mind operated computer may someday help spinal cord injury communication

A device in its early stages of testing has shown it could soon become the way of the future for spinal cord injury patients.

Spinal cord injury patients included in the study wore a cap embedded with electrodes that picked up brain waves and transmitted them to a computer. The computer then changed the electrical signals into output that showed the user's intent.

Then a program identified the brain waves that people are able to best control, which allowed a cursor to move to a target on the computer screen. Based on the study, the device appeared to work.

The participants were able to manipulate the cursor just by thinking about it, later improving their practice. Best outcomes were shown to be among the spinal cord participants, attributed to the group being especially motivated or because they had brain changes due to the spinal cord injuries.

Researchers hope to progress to three dimensions, and in the end, give spinal cord injury patients and severe muscle disability patients a new way to communicate.

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