A new study shows that the wireless and wearable Tongue Drive System outperforms sip-and-puff in controlling wheelchairs. In the study, individuals with paralysis were able to use a tongue-controlled technology to access computers and execute commands for their wheelchairs at speeds that were significantly faster than those recorded in sip-and-puff wheelchairs, but with equal accuracy.
The Tongue Drive System is controlled by the position of the user’s tongue. A magnetic tongue stud lets them use their tongue as a joystick to drive the wheelchair. Sensors in the tongue stud relay the tongue’s position to a headset, which then executes up to six commands based on the tongue position.
The Tongue Drive System holds promise for patients who have lost the use of their arms and legs, a condition known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia.
“It’s really easy to understand what the Tongue Drive System can do and what it is good for,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a study co-author and principal investigator. “Now, we have solid proof that people with disabilities can potentially benefit from it.”
The study was published on Nov. 27 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Science Foundation funded the research.
Scientists from Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago were also involved in the study.
Jeonghee Kim and Hangue Park, who are working on the Tongue Drive System as graduate students at Georgia Tech, are co-authors of the study.
The Tongue Drive System is a novel technology that empowers people with disability to achieve maximum independence at home and in the community by enabling them to drive a power wheelchair and control their environment in a smoother and more intuitive way.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology, USA