A Novel Approach to Communication for Individuals with Complete Paralysis June 4, 2024 at 8:00 am

The foundation of this presentation is rooted in interdisciplinary research that bridges neural engineering, speech science, and virtual reality technology. Drawing from advancements in neural prosthetics, where individuals with paralysis successfully control robotic limbs through brain-computer interfaces, our approach adapts similar principles to the domain of speech production.

Clinical observations of motor learning and speech acquisition highlight the brain’s adaptability and the potential for individuals to learn new methods of communication, akin to mastering a musical instrument. Anecdotal evidence from user experiences with virtual reality environments further supports the feasibility of using immersive, gamified platforms for skill acquisition.

Preliminary studies in articulatory speech synthesis demonstrate the capability to produce intelligible speech through controlled parameters, providing a solid basis for developing a system that translates imagined limb movements into speech. This presentation will synthesize these findings to illustrate the viability and transformative potential of our novel communication system for individuals with complete paralysis.

Key Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this session, participants will be able to:
1. explain the currently available AAC options for individuals with complete paralysis, including their limitations and the challenges they present in enabling effective communication.
2. identify the principles of motor learning and adaptability that underpin a user’s ability to control speech synthesizers through imagined limb movements, offering insights into potential rehabilitation and AAC applications.
3. discuss the potential impact of innovative AAC systems on enhancing the quality of life and communication capabilities of individuals with severe motor impairments, fostering an attitude of innovation and collaboration in addressing complex accessibility challenges.

Speaker(s)

Kaufmann
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