With age, we have seen changes taking place in the technology quotient being applied to the wheel chair concepts. A simple wheel chair would work by the push of the wheel manually and making the use of the foot to give it direction. Adding more comfortability, the world came about developing computerized ones wherein the push and the direction can be controlled by way of brain signals. Have we ever wanted to know what all new developments are taking place when it comes to the wheel chair? Let’s have a look.
Remember Stephen Hawking? When you picture him, you would definitely have an image of him on his wheel chair. But that wheel chair in picture is not any ordinary wheel chair. Hawking has near complete paralysis but retains enough muscle control to allow him to press a button with his right hand. A computer screen displays a series of icons that allow control of his wheelchair, doors and appliances in his house. He can select items on the screen by pressing the button when a moving cursor passes over the correct area of the screen. Hawking’s ability to move a finger on his right hand differentiates him from many other victims of paralysis or disease, who are unable to communicate or interact with control systems at all. So what does technology have in store for the rest of the victims?
A robotic wheelchair combines brain control with artificial intelligence to make it easier for people to maneuver it using only their thoughts. The wheelchair, developed by researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, features software that can take a simple command like “go left” and assess the immediate area to figure out how to follow the command without hitting anything. The software can also understand when the driver wants to navigate to a particular object, like a table. Electroencephalography (EEG) has emerged as a promising way for paralyzed patients to control computers or wheelchairs. A user needs to wear a skullcap and undergo training for a few hours a day over about five days. Patients control the chair simply by imagining they are moving a part of the body.
Do you remember the sip and puff technology that came about in use for the wheelchair. Control typically consists of four different inputs from the user. An initial hard puff will enable the wheelchair to move forward, while a hard sip will stop the wheelchair. But with the modern day developments in healthcare, scientists have now also pioneered a tongue drive system mainly for the use by tetraplegia patients. Tetraplegia is paralysis caused by illness or injury to a human that results in the partial or total loss of use of all their limbs and torso. The loss is usually sensory and motor, which means that both sensation and control are lost.
The Tongue Drive System is controlled by the position of the user’s tongue. A magnetic tongue stud which is pierced into the tongue lets them use it as a joystick to drive the wheelchair. Sensors in the tongue stud relay the tongue’s position to a headset, which then executes up to six commands based on the tongue position. Linking it to our one of the previous blog posts on oral piercing, did you ever imagine a tongue piercing being used in healthcare technology!!
So as we said before in our posts prior, miracles in medical technology indeed are fascinating with their outcomes.