Auditory Electrooculogram-based Communication System for ALS Patients in Transition from Locked-in to Complete Locked-in State


Tonin A, et al. Sci Rep 2020.


Patients in the transition from locked-in (i.e., a state of almost complete paralysis with voluntary eye movement control, eye blinks or twitches of face muscles, and preserved consciousness) to complete locked-in state (i.e., total paralysis including paralysis of eye-muscles and loss of gaze-fixation, combined with preserved consciousness) are left without any means of communication. An auditory communication system based on electrooculogram (EOG) was developed to enable such patients to

communicate. Four amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients in transition from locked-in state to completely locked-in state, with ALSFRS-R score of 0, unable to use eye trackers for communication, learned to use an auditory EOG-based communication system. The patients, with eye-movement amplitude between the range of ±200μV and ±40μV, were able to form complete sentences and communicate independently and freely, selecting letters from an auditory speller system. A follow-up of one year with one patient shows the feasibility of the proposed system in long-term use and the correlation between speller performance and eye-movement decay. The results of the auditory speller system have the potential to provide a means of communication to patient populations without gaze fixation ability and with low eye-movement amplitude range.