Aris Spathis, Emmanouil Mastorakis, Efthymios Karakostas, Spiridon Stergiopoulos, Ioannis Panayiotides and Petros Karakitsos
- Niki Margari, Abraham Pouliakis
- International Journal of Reliable and Quality E…
Despite contemporary advancements in healthcare, conventional methods of treatment have more than once proved ineffective in curing certain classes of neurological disorders, especially those where the central nervous system has been subjected to severe irreversible damage. Such disorders include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, cerebral aneurysm, traumatic brain injury, stroke, apraxia, and aphasia. In certain severe cases, more than one disorder might affect the same patient, making him or her completely lockedin—that is, cognitively intact, but unable to move or communicate (Kennedy & Adams, 2003). A completely locked-in patient usually suffers from symptoms that include complete inability of controlling any voluntary muscles in the body, apart from those needed for eye movements and blinking. Nonetheless, the patient is capable of reasoning, thinking, as well as preserving all signs of consciousness. Moreover, normal sleep and wake cycles persist throughout the lockedin state. In addition, as is the case of most paralyzed people, a locked-in patient has the tendency to develop muscle atrophy and spasticity. Figure 1 illustrates a sketch of a locked-in patient. There are vast regions around the world where the completely locked-in patient is doomed to social rejection—in particular, when conventional rehabilitation methods fail to lessen the severity of the patient’s handicap. For example, in the absence of motor control, it is practically impossible to use sign language or common input devices to interface with a computer system in order to communicate through spelling or expressionbuilding software (Betke, Gips, & Fleming, 2002). This article describes the design and development of a low-cost eye tracking-based brain-computer interface system for the rehabilitation of the completely locked-in patient having an intact ocular motor control to serve as an alternative means of communication (Abu-Faraj, Mashaalany, Bou Sleiman, Heneine, & Katergi, 2006). The developed system has been designed according to the following criteria: low cost, low processing power, simplicity of operation, little training requirements, minimal disturbance to the patient, and ease of customization to any mother tongue.