nous™ for individuals with cerebral palsy
Having cerebral palsy (CP) can make it difficult to use assistive technology - that’s not the case with nous™
What is CP?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. CP is the most common form of physical disability in children, and currently does not have a cure.
It is known to be caused by damage to the developing brain (during and up to 3 years of age). Although it is a permanent condition, symptoms can change over time.
Because different areas of the brain can be affected for different people, symptoms can vary greatly. Some people may have one limb affected, for others, CP can affect their entire body causing quadriplegia.
It can affect body movement, muscle control, coordination, tone, reflex, posture, and balance. There may also be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing and speaking.
Assistive technology can be life changing for people with CP
Assistive technology refers to any device or equipment that can be used to help a person carry out their daily activities, or improve functionality and independence.
For someone with CP, there may be a number of different devices and equipment that can be used to improve participation in more activities, to enhance learning, access to communication, improve hearing, vision and mobility. These can range from using grips on pens, eye gaze for using a computer, and a wheelchair to get out and about.
The use of assistive technology can provide a number of benefits:
- Access to education, schooling and learning opportunities
- More inclusion in activities, recreation and games
- A more engaged social life, inclusion and community participation
- The ability to communicate, speak with others and express themselves
- More self-confidence and independence
- Improved quality of life and self-sufficiency
How do people with quadriplegic CP access computers?
People with quadriplegic CP, which affects their whole body and often their voice, will often use eye-gaze technology. Eye-gaze technology allows people to use their eyes like a computer mouse, making selections and ‘clicks’ by looking as different things on the screen.
Different types of switches are also useful for people with quadriplegic CP. A switch access method is a simple device that has two states – on and off. They often come in the form of buttons that can be hit with a body part that a person can move reliably and consistently.
Switches require minimal physical input, so they can be used by people with physical disabilities, who can't use more traditional computer access methods, such as a computer mouse, touch screen and keyboards
Not all assistive technologies can be accessed by people with CP, but nous™ is a viable option
"our first long-term customer has CP. At the age of 26, she is now able to communicate independently for the first time in her life, thanks to nous™ and her amazing support network."
Depending on how much CP affects the muscles of the body, a lot of existing assistive technologies can be difficult if not impossible to use. This is because they all require some form of physical input.
Although eye gaze is often the “go to” system, people can find this technology tiring and painful to use on its own. Physical switches, such as buttons and proximity switches require people to be able to use different body parts repeatedly to access them, causing additional injury to the individual.
With all of the available options, people need to be positioned in their wheelchairs in specialised ways, which can be an uncomfortable experience.
nous™ is a unique switch access method, which lets people control assistive software by blinking. It only uses intentional blinks, so people can still blink comfortably.
Most people can blink intentionally or learn to do so over time. This makes nous™ a viable assistive technology, even for people who have quadriplegic CP. In fact, our first ever customer has CP. At the age of 26, she is now able to communicate independently for the first time in her life, thanks to nous™ and her amazing support network.
There are a number of benefits to nous™ over other assistive technologies for computer access:
- minimal training required
- the only physical need is the ability to blink reliably
- positioning is not an issue
- compatible with other switches
- compatible with eye-gaze
- compatible with head-support/head-rests
- soft, comfortable sensors attached to a washable, breathable headband
- integrates with the most popular assistive communication applications for Windows OS
- can be used in all environments
- intuitive user-experience, that has been designed with people who have disabilities & their support network
Don't just take our work for it, here is feedback from a therapist who has implemented nous™ for their client:
"My patient has been using intentional blinks to communicate for years and to date any ‘‘blink’’ switch always required hard blinks that were either too tiring or too difficult. nous™ was different as it allowed them to use habitual, intentional blinks to control scanning to access communication software."
- Lise Bleu, Occupational Therapist
How does nous™ work?
nous™ is both hardware and software. The hardware component is a soft headset that houses the sensors which measure your blinks.
These sensors measure the electrical signals of eye movement, called "electrooculography"or EOG (this signal is independent of your eyebrow or forehead movements, and is only produced by the movement of your eyeballs). With nous™, the headset measures the EOG signals produced when a person blinks.
Everyone’s blinks are different. In fact, on any given time or day, even your own blinks will vary. The software part of nous™ needs to understand what a person's “blink signal” looks like before they start using it as a switch access method. This ensures that they get the most accurate experience when using blinks to control software applications.
nous™ can be used with all of the most popular communication apps available on Windows OS, such as Tobii Dynavox Communicator 5, PRC NuVoice and SmartBox Grid 3.
nous™ can also be used with other software applications that can be used with switch interfaces, such as the Windows on-screen keyboard, and cause and effect games.
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