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Neuroinformatics students helping paralysed and disabled people with self-made interfaces – with case studies.

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Tadeusz Czerniawski (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Michal Czerwinski (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Jerzy Grynczewski (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Wioleta Kijewska (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Natan Napiorkowski (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Anja Ries (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Karol Siek (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), Katarzyna Tolubinska (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw)

World’s first major in neuroinformatics (starting from the BSc) was launched in the academic year 2009/2010 at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw. For most of the last year, students had a new kind of apprenticeship: they went to help the disabled, for example, in an advanced state of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They were there to try and find out what devices and interfaces are in the basic needs of a patient, with the help of the staff of the Biomedical Physics Division.
It was more of an experiment and motivation than research or actual helping process, but the point is that the most basic neuroinformatic methods can help people. For the patients, even scrolling pages of a book, changing the channels in a TV or writing an email was impossible. We wanted to try and see if we can somehow help them to do that.
The most basic way is to program an interface using a cursor to navigate in a menu, with a single button to confirm selection Other, more sophisticated methods we tried to apply, included low-cost, open-source eyetrackers and gazetrackers. Calibrating and customizing the interface to the needs of a patient is not the only problem. We also have to deal with physiological problems related to the patients' disabilities (e.g., spastic attack).We want to present the methods, concepts and devices we used in the experiment, and also the conclusions we reached.. The people working on this project remembered all the time, that the most important goal is to help people. That is why the software we develop is provided as open-source, and the costs are kept at a minimum. This project is the first of – we hope – many to follow, all with the aim of making it easier to help people in need.
Using a few use cases, we present the concepts of the devices and interfaces we used, why we used them, the problems we encountered while working with the patients, as well as our conclusions.
Preferred presentation format: Poster
Topic: Clinical neuroscience

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