Paralysis refers to loss of motor function in a part due to as lesion of the neural or muscular mechanism. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a form of motor neuron disease that affects all voluntary muscles. This makes the patients incapable of even the slightest movements such as blinking. However, their ability to think is unaffected.
The new headband that has been developed by Japanese scientists exploiting the dynamic power of the human mind in such patients will enable communication for these patients. The headband is called kokoro-gatari.
The device works by measuring the one function these patients can still control - blood flow through their brains. The headband emits near-infrared rays to measure the flow of blood through the brain.
If the patient wants to agree with a question they try to activate the blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain by working out mental arithmetic or trying to remember the words of a song.
On the other hand, the patients try to relax themselves if they want to disagree with the question. It has been found that the device enabled patients to respond with an accuracy of nearly 80 % in over half a minute.
One may think the accuracy rate is 20% less than perfect. But it is a big leap from zero for patients who still want to communicate their wishes. It is agreeable that less than perfect communication is better than no communication at all.
The product is expected to be marketed in Japan before the end of the year.