Paralyzed and Voiceless Man Partially Overcomes His Condition After Receiving Brainwave-Reading Implant

Paralyzed and Voiceless Man Partially Overcomes His Condition After Receiving Brainwave-Reading Implant
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Not being able to speak or move is one of the most horrible things that can happen to a person. But once again, it has been proven that science can miraculously solve such conditions.

A new study published in Nature Communications presents the incredible case of a man who is both paralyzed and unable to speak. But thanks to a neuroprosthetic device that reads brainwaves to put them into sentences, he was able to spell out more than 1,000 words.

An electrode device was implanted in the area of the brain that usually has control over the vocal tract. A question was displayed on a surface in front of the person. The device monitored the brain activity while the man was trying to speak. A computer algorithm was then used to translate the brain activity patterns into words in real-time.

The description of the new scientific achievement via the journal where the study has been published says the following:

Neuroprostheses have the potential to restore communication to people who cannot speak or type due to paralysis. However, it is unclear if silent attempts to speak can be used to control a communication neuroprosthesis. Here, we translated direct cortical signals in a clinical-trial participant (ClinicalTrials.gov; NCT03698149) with severe limb and vocal-tract paralysis into single letters to spell out full sentences in real time. We used deep-learning and language-modeling techniques to decode letter sequences as the participant attempted to silently spell using code words that represented the 26 English letters (e.g. “alpha” for “a”).

The achievement surely provides hope for future applications and at even larger scales. Currently, across the world, 1 in 50 people suffer from some form of paralysis, which means roughly 5.4 million individuals. That’s more that the population of Croatia.

Paralysis can affect any part of the human body, and the condition can start gradually or suddenly.


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Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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