While a cure is being sought for ALS, the advancement of life support technology and clinical practice can prolong the life of a person with ALS, but also extends the period in which his/her motor functions are very poor or even absent, leading to a state of complete dependence on the caregivers. As a consequence, social inclusion and quality of life of people with ALS is decreasing, while the social cost for their assistance is increasing.
Aim of BrIndiSys is the development of an assistive system aimed at preserving the communication capabilities of a person who progressively loses his muscular force, coping with his/her residual abilities. Even in absence of muscular functions, the proposed system would still allow the user some communication capabilities, by relaying on non-invasive Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs). In fact, by identifying the modulation of brain activity voluntarily induced by the user, detected by processing his electroencephalogram (EEG), BCI research has shown in the past decade the possibility of a communication even in absence of any muscular contraction.
Differently from other ongoing research projects in which BCI is being bridged into the Assistive Technologies field, here we focus on a simple BCI – ensuring its robustness – which provides basic communication performance, embedded into a dedicated hardware – thus relieving from the use of a personal computer, for the sake of cost, ease of use, and dependability. Users with ALS will be recruited since the beginning of the BrIndiSys to provide requirements, and will be allowed to test the prototype during the final year.