The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

November 28, 2013

Tongue pierce lets the paralyzed drive wheelchairs

WASHINGTON (AP) — An experimental device is letting paralyzed people drive wheelchairs simply by flicking their tongue in the right direction.

Key to this wireless system: Users get their tongue pierced with a magnetic stud that resembles jewelry and acts like a joystick, in hopes of offering them more mobility and independence.

Researchers reported Wednesday that 11 people paralyzed from the neck down rapidly learned to use the tongue device to pilot their wheelchairs through an obstacle course full of twists and turns, and to operate a computer, too.

"It's really powerful because it's so intuitive," said Jason DiSanto, 39, of Atlanta, who was among the first spinal cord-injured patients to get his tongue pierced for science and try out the system. "The first time I did it, people thought I was driving for, like, years."

The team of researchers in Atlanta and Chicago put the Tongue Drive System to the test against one of the most widely used assistive technologies, called sip-and-puff, that users operate by breathing into a straw. Using the tongue, patients operated their wheelchairs a bit faster but just as accurately — and on average, they performed about three times better on video game-like computer tests, said lead researcher Maysam Ghovanloo, director of Georgia Tech's bionics lab.

The research, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is an early step that allowed use of the device only inside laboratories. Larger studies in real-world conditions are required before the device ever could be sold. And the tongue piercing may be a turn-off for some potential users, the researchers acknowledge.

But the work is attracting attention from specialists who say there's a big need for more assistive technologies so they can customize care for the severely disabled.

"For people who have very limited ability to control a power wheelchair, there aren't that many options," said Dr. Brad Dicianno, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who wasn't involved with the new research. "There is some interesting promise for this tongue control."

Text Only
AP National
  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Ba

    April 16, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies WASHINGTON (AP) — Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be punished as a crime? That debate makes its way to the Supreme Court next week as the justi

    April 16, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years. Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test were released on Wednesday by the College Boa

    April 16, 2014

  • End of NYPD Muslim surveillance program applauded NEW YORK (AP) — Muslim groups and civil liberties advocates applauded the decision by New York Police Department officials to disband a controversial unit that tracked the daily lives of Muslims as part of efforts to detect terrorism threats, but the

    April 16, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. NEARLY 300 PEOPLE ARE MISSING AFTER KOREAN BOAT SINKS The accident involving a ferry that was headed to a tourist island killed three passenger

    April 16, 2014

  • Dress codes: Where should schools set limits? EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — They're called leggings — popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others. Younger girls often wear them as pants with little fuss. But as those same girls approach middle school, leggi

    April 16, 2014

  • People with old Social Security debts get reprieve WASHINGTON (AP) — People with old Social Security debts are getting a reprieve — for now. The Social Security Administration had been participating in a program in which thousands of people were having their tax refunds seized to recoup overpayments

    April 15, 2014

  • Russia tests Obama's ability to stop its advances WASHINGTON (AP) — With the White House asserting that Russia is stoking instability in eastern Ukraine, President Barack Obama is once again faced with the complicated reality of following through on his tough warnings against overseas provocations.

    April 15, 2014

  • Tributes planned to mark Boston Marathon bombing BOSTON (AP) — The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings started with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday morning at the site of the twin explosions, the first tribute in a day dedicated to honoring the three people who died, the more than 2

    April 15, 2014

  • Police: Suspected killers wore GPS devices ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two convicted sex offenders dutifully checked in with police every month and wore their GPS trackers around the clock — the rules of parole that are designed to tip off authorities if a freed felon backslides. Yet for at least

    April 15, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National