“It’s the first sign that completely locked-in syndrome may be abolished forever, because with all of these patients, we can now ask them the most critical questions in life,”

Good news for living death paiens and their familys. Locked-in syndrome is characterised by complete paralysis, which impedes all communication with the outside world, It is a neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body except for those that control eye movement. The locked-in syndrome is usually a complication of a cerebrovascular accident (a stroke) in the base of the pons in the brainstem. The patient is alert and fully conscious but cannot move. Only vertical movements of the eyes and blinking are possible.

Locked-in Syndrome communication a great biotechnologic challange

In 2013 , a letter published in Current Biology (see HERE) describes a technique using a camera which measures pupil size to recognise either a “yes” or a “no” response on the part of the patient. This system represented a great advance in communication for those suffering from this condition, which is often considered to be a living death.

Now one great step has been done. Doctors have used a brain-reading device to hold simple conversations with “locked-in” patients in work that promises to transform the lives of people of these patients.

The groundbreaking technology allows who have not been able to speak for years to answer “yes” or “no” to questions by detecting telltale patterns in their brain activity.

Three women and one man, aged 24 to 76, were trained to use the system more than a year after they were diagnosed with completely locked-in syndrome, or CLIS.

“It’s the first sign that completely locked-in syndrome may be abolished forever, because with all of these patients, we can now ask them the most critical questions in life,” said Niels Birbaumer, a neuroscientist who led the research (The Guardian, Juanary 2017)