PATIENTS with severe paralysis of limbs, face and vocal apparatus may be intelligent and aware and yet, tragically, unable to communicate. We describe a communication link for such a ‘locked-in’ patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We recorded action potentials in her brain over several months by means of an electrode that induces growth of myelinated fibers into its recording tip. She was able to control the neural signals in an on/off fashion. This result is an important step towards providing such patients with direct control of their environment by interfacing with a computer. Additionally, it indicates that restoration of paralyzed muscles may be possible by using the signals to control muscle stimulators.
1Community Neurological Clinic, Suite 260, 3855 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, GA 30096
2Neurosurgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
3Corresponding Author: P. R. Kennedy
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We acknowledge the unfailing moral support of the patient's husband and family. We thank the following: Emory University Hospital for funding the implantation procedures; The Emory-Georgia Tech Biomedical Research Center and The American Paralysis Asociation for funding previous aspects of this work. The following individuals assisted with different aspects of this work: Dr Carol Weingarten and the Department of Radiology at Emory University for the fMRI, engineering assistance from David Banks, John Fanguy, Neal Hollenbach, Andy Hopper, Cynthia Linker, Chris Russell, Steve Sharpe, Rich Verellan and Jim Wilson. Joyce Klem provided technical assistance with the figures.
Received 3 February 1998; accepted 11 March 1998