Navigation Links
Sniffing Device Allows Disabled to Write, Run Wheelchairs

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- An Israeli research team has harnessed the power of the sniff to help severely disabled people play computer games, express themselves through writing and even move around in wheelchairs.

The experimental "sniff controller" takes advantage of the fact that cranial nerves in disabled people are often not damaged and are still able to send messages to the soft palate (the back of the roof of the mouth). The device registers changes in nasal pressure as the soft palate is being moved. Those changes are translated into electric signals that then communicate to the device.

The researchers, whose findings are published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, postulated that the experimental device could help quadriplegics and those suffering from "locked-in syndrome," which is when the patient is aware of their environment but can't respond or move.

"It's a pretty brilliant idea," said Paul Sanberg, distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa. "It's really a mechanical thing that allows people that don't have other ways to communicate to use sniffing. It gives people who have significant disabilities another option."

Many of these people can only communicate using eye movements, although scientists have been working on different brain-computer or brain-machine interface technologies to expand their abilities, but these are in various stages of development.

As part of the study, one 51-year-old woman, locked in for seven months due to a stroke, was able to use the sniff device to write a message to her family, the first since she had been stricken.

Similarly, a 42-year-old man who had been locked in since a car accident 18 years earlier, wrote messages by sniffing when particular letters were highlighted. It took him only 20 minutes to write his name after first being introduced to the sniff controller.

The first participant was able to "write" at a rate of three letters per minute and the second at 1.5 letters per minute, the researchers said.

And although this might seem slow, the researchers pointed out that Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote the memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly using only blinks of his left eye to sort out letters. This worked out to about one word every 2 minutes. Bauby was locked in as the result of a stroke suffered during his 40s.

The device also enabled quadriplegic individuals to write and even to navigate the Internet and write e-mails.

Sniffing also equaled mobility for many participants in the trial. Both healthy controls and disabled people were able to navigate a 115-foot path, including several turns, using a series of simple commands: forward was two sniffs in; backward was two sniffs out; left was sniffs out then in; and right was sniffs in then out.

Often, it took only 15 minutes of practice to "drive" successfully.

The researchers believe that most people can breathe independently of sniffing, ruling out the possibility that an accidental breath might activate the wheelchair commands and cause a disaster.

But, even so, the device can be programmed with "safety breaks," for instance, adding extra commands so as to minimize the possibility that the wheelchair would be activated accidentally. It's just that such controls would slow things down.

The authors are now planning to test the sniff controller in other types of patients, including those in a vegetative state.

The Weizmann Institute in Israel, which conducted the trial, has applied for a patent on the technology.

More information

Learn more about assistive technologies from the University of Washington.

SOURCES: Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director, University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Tampa; July 26-30, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. More Than 70,000 Kids Injured By Medical Devices Each Year
2. BioSTARTM device achieves 90 percent closure rate for atrial septal defect in children
3. Radiation device allows for targeted breast radiation to control cancer
4. RMSR Certification Gains Medical Device & Equipment Industry Acceptance for Medical Sales Reps
5. Scientists design new delivery device for gene therapy
6. A/C Mist Device Cools Down Air Conditioners, Utility Bills
7. Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute Surgeon First in State to Implant Heart Device
8. AMP asks FDA to address barriers to device innovation
9. Mobile and Patented: DATA-TO-CAMERA TOGGLE on handheld device replaces old camera and clipboard approach everywhere! Beats IPAD to camera punch too.....
10. My Endpoint Protector Device Control is Now Available for Home Users Free of Charge
11. Jell-O lab-on-a-chip devices to spark interest in science careers
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Sniffing Device Allows Disabled to Write, Run Wheelchairs
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... has focused on providing comprehensive solutions involving adult stem cell therapies to patients ... officially deemed the “Regenestem” name as a Registered Trademark (RTM). , Organizations are ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Genesis Chiropractic Software helps practice owners automate ... between the practice owner and the patient that automatically manages all five aspects ... Click here to learn more. , According to Dr. Brian ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... New patients who wish ... referral for dental implants at her Mississauga, ON practice. Dr. Williams has ... the placement of dental implants. , Missing teeth can lead to a variety ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... FRANCISCO, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... half-cup sizes, has launched their Black Friday sale a week early, offering 40% ... continues to transform the intimate apparel industry through both mobile fit technology and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... DMG Productions announced that they will feature ... quarter 2016 via Discovery Channel. Dates and show times TBA. , Aphria, Inc., is ... the business of producing and supplying medical marijuana pursuant to the Marijuana for Medical ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 ... addition of the  "Global Drug Device ... to their offering.  --> ... of the  "Global Drug Device Combination ... their offering.  --> Research ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 WuXi PharmaTech (Cayman) Inc. ("WuXi" or ... R&D capability and technology platform company serving the pharmaceutical, ... China and the United ... general meeting of shareholders held today, the Company,s shareholders ... approve the previously announced agreement and plan of merger ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... CARLOS, Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... a leader in non-invasive genetic testing and ... announced that it will present at the ... in New York on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. ET.  Matthew ... the Company,s financial results, business activities and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: