An In-home Study of Brain Computer Interfaces

Study Purpose:

The investigators are developing a tool to help people who are severely paralyzed. This tool is called a brain-computer interface (BCI). BCIs can connect to computers or other electronic devices.

This study allows a person with ALS to communicate, control their wheelchair tilt and perform other tasks using a BCI, thus increasing their independence.

Study Status:

Not recruiting


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Study Type:


Type of Intervention:


Intervention Name:

Brain Computer Interface for Wheelchair Tilt Control




Study Chair(s)/Principal Investigator(s):

Jane Huggins, PhD, University of Michigan ID:


Neals Affiliated?


Coordinating Center Contact Information

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109 United States

Full Study Summary:

This small-scale study of the feasibility of a BCI to operate the tilt position of a power wheelchair was also designed to determine the conditions and support structures necessary for use of a BCI in the home. In this study, people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) will have a BCI in their home. They will receive training in order to operate and maintain the BCI. The BCI will allow them to access at least one task of primary interest to them. Task may include communication, computer access, control of assistive technology, or control of wheelchair seat position. Data concerning the use of the BCI will be collected throughout the study. Custom installations will be made for each participant to connect to their wheelchair and provide communication options if needed. Each installation is expected to be a unique prototype because of the differing control requirements for the individual wheelchairs in use by the participants.

We intended to enroll six participants, but were only able to enroll one.

Study Sponsor:

University of Michigan

Estimated Enrollment:


Estimated Study Start Date:

12 / 31 / 2009

Estimated Study Completion Date:

05 / 01 / 2011

Posting Last Modified Date:

03 / 15 / 2017

Date Study Added to

05 / 14 / 2010

Minimum Age:

18 Years

Maximum Age:


Inclusion Criteria:

- Age 18 or older.

- Presently having difficulty communicating or operating the controls for assistive technology or likely to have difficulty in the next six months.

- Able to see the BCI display

- Able to understand and remember instructions concerning participation.

- Live in an environment that can accommodate the wheelchair portable BCI host computer

- Expected to live in the same physical environment for at least 6 months.

- Has family and caregiver(s) who are supportive of participation in this research.

- Has a primary caregiver who is technically capable, willing to learn the setup and operation of the BCI system, and likely to remain with the subject for at least 6 months.

- Has been shown to be able to use a BCI (in an experimental session under another IRB, e.g. HUM 00012968).

- Has a clear understanding of the shortcomings of the present state of BCI technology

Exclusion Criteria:

- Open head lesions or a history of problems with skin breakdown on the head that may be aggravated by repeated application of electrodes.

- Inability to communicate well enough to give informed consent.

- History of photo-sensitive epilepsy

- Known significant cognitive deficits

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
United States