Medical scientists at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia are developing a truly breakthrough piece of technology to assist those recovering from strokes or spinal injuries – a wheelchair that can be controlled by tongue movements.
The wheelchair technology breakthrough comes from a group of scientists at the Shepherd Center working closely with another group from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"One of the major advantages of the tongue is that it's directly connected to the brain," says Maysam Ghovanloo, head of the project at Georgia Tech.
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"The tongue is unlike the rest of the body, which is connected to the brain through the spinal cord. A patient who has even the highest level of spinal cord injury can still move his or her tongue like me or you."
The Tongue Drive system is being tested on patients now, enabling them to control their own movement around the hospital in ways that were simply not possible prior to this new tech.
"The users like it because they don't look much different when using the chair, as opposed to other mobile units that use sip and puff methods or keypads to get around," says Ghovanloo.