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Tongue Drive System: New Mobility for People With Spinal Cord Injuries

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | July 08, 2009

While this initial performance trial only required six tongue commands, the Tongue Drive system can potentially capture a large number of tongue movements, each of which can represent a different user command.

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The ability to train the system with as many commands as an individual can comfortably remember and having all of the commands available to the user at the same time are significant advantages over the common sip-n-puff device that acts as a simple switch controlled by sucking or blowing through a straw, Ghovanloo says.

Some sip-n-puff users also consider the straw to be a symbol of their disability. Since Tongue Drive users wear headphones, commonly worn by music listeners, or mobile phone users, this system makes patients feel more like everyone else, researchers say.

A future system upgrade will be to move the sensors inside the user's mouth, according to Ghovanloo. This will be an important step for users who are very impaired and cannot reposition the system for best results.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology.

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