Unlocking voices of the "locked-in"

Fully aware of his surroundings but unable to communicate, he is locked-in.

Now, new technology is helping an accident victim unlock his voice. Today we show you the device that's changed his life and could change a lot more.

A car crash, then a stroke left this champion wrestler, college student, and army communications specialist locked-in.

Now, Greg Bieker communicates with his eyes. Using a chart, those closest to him can figure out what Greg is saying. It's tedious and time consuming. Greg can only communicate when someone else is in the room.

Now researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University Brain Institute are using a brain-computer interface to give people like Greg more freedom. Greg puts on a cap with electrodes.

"The computer detects change,” says Aimee R. Mooney, M.S.,CCC-SLP/L, at theOregon Health and Science University. “That change is noted as basically a mouse click."

Betts Peters
Speech-Language Pathologist
"Say the word is "the," when he sees that 't' he needs to think yeah,” says Betts Peters a Speech-Language Pathologist. “Or he thinks the ‘t’ and that creates a spike in the brain signal that the computer can recognize."

Like texting on a smartphone, the technology can predict words. Soon it could also predict whole sentences and possibly do even more for Greg.

"Maybe change the channel in a TV or the volume," explains Kelly Jo Stransky Greg’s Caregiver.

We asked Greg why he is doing this, his response, to help people less fortunate than himself.

Brain Institute officials believe locked-in patients are just the beginning.

Currently in trials, this technology could also be used to help people with advanced Lou Gehrig's Disease, severe Parkinson’s, MS and spinal cord injuries.

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