Rolling Without Limits

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Inventor Rolls out Mind-controlled Wheelchair
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Inventor Rolls out Mind-controlled Wheelchair

It’s fascinating to see how experts are able to create and design incredible and amazing types of wheelchairs today – from a robotic wheelchair to a sport chair to a rowing mobility chair. But there is an inventor who built one that is way beyond ordinary; it’s because the device is mind-controlled. 

Jordan Nguyen, a native of Australia, had a horrible accident. He jumped off from a shaky diving board which threw him out of balance. He unfortunately hit his head at the bottom of the swimming pool; he was paralyzed for one whole day. Nguyen, due to the accident and its outcome, came to understand the feeling of being physically limited, not able to move an extremity or extremities. That is why he wanted to do, or create, something that will greatly help people with disabilities.

His experience led him to create and design a mobility device that will help those who have severe disabilities, like locked-in syndrome. Locked-in Syndrome, also called as cerebromedullospinal disconnection, is a condition wherein nearly all of the individual’s voluntary muscles are paralyzed except for the eye muscles. The patient is conscious and aware but because of the paralysis, he cannot move nor make verbal communications.

Nguyen's changed perspective in life made him focus on studying and understanding medical science, neuroscience, and robotics. He also made further reading and research about artificial intelligence and biomedical instrumentation.

With everything he studied, researched and understood, he came to realize that a mind-controlled wheelchair is not impossible. He then designed the mobility device to be usable even with those who have severe physical disabilities.

The mind-controlled wheelchair is created with a headband that will be worn by the user. The artificial program in the device is designed to focus on changes in the user’s thoughts which will prompt the device to move.

Nguyen elaborates how his mind-controlled wheelchair operates. For example, an individual thinks of a red ball when he wants to turn left. So, if he is on the mind-controlled wheelchair, he will think of the red ball to make the device turn left. This is possible because the artificial program in the device detects the difference of the thoughts in the mind of the user, allowing it move in the direction the user wants it to go.

Nguyen already made a trial practice of the wheelchair wherein the users are mid-range quadriplegic patients. The patients were able to operate the chair and made it move through an obstacle course. Nguyen fine-tuned the chair in a manner that the patients were able to figure out how to use it in just 10 minutes.

The mind-controlled wheelchair is such an amazing innovation of the standard wheelchair. However, the chair is still so expensive and costly to produce at the moment. So Nguyen’s next goal is to make the chair affordable in the market.

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