Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ComaWare Report Summary

Project ID: 696535

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ComaWare (COMmunication and Assessment With Adaptive Realtime Environments)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Imagine being able to hear, feel, and think – but not see or move. You cannot communicate in any way, but can hear doctors and family members saying that you are comatose and cannot understand or make decisions. Recent work has shown that this nightmarish situation is a reality for tens of thousands of people worldwide, who have been diagnosed as comatose but may in fact have some ability to understand. More recent work has shown that brain-computer interface (BCI) systems can help with re-assessment of these patients, and can even provide communication. Very recent developments, have strongly supported our plan to provide new technology to help these patients. In addition to providing assessment and communication, our new mindBEAGLE prototype will also be able to provide prediction and rehabilitation. This system is suitable for patients who have been (mis)- diagnosed as unable to communicate. These persons, and their physicians and families, will be very highly motivated to convey their basic needs and desires, and seek rehabilitation to regain some cognitive and motor function. In addition to creating a new mindBEAGLE-Pro system specialized for severely disabled persons without vision, we will also develop, pilot-test, and launch a novel business focused on providing support for patients, their carers and clinicians. Overall, ComaWare will create a paradigm shift in assessment and treatment of persons diagnosed with disorders of consciousness.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The ComaWare project got off to a very good start. We hired several new staff. We developed four new written standardized training procedures for validation and created questionnaires for validation partners. The software team was active with debugging and other software development. All of the WP Leaders began holding monthly meetings with their WP teams beginning in October. In January, we hosted our first Advisory Board meeting and a major distributor training workshop to train over 20 distributors. We identified hospital partners in China, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, USA, France and Spain and visited them to train the insitutions and to perform measurements. We collected new data and analyzed existing data, with three patients who show promising results indicating that they do have conscious awareness. We completed construction on a new expansion to our office, where we hosted the distributor workshop and set up a pilot mindBEAGLE-Gym. We developed and pilot-tested different approaches to service models, accounting for issues such as time required for different types of patient interactions, personnel needs, and costs. Dr. Hintermueller explored a variety of different devices and technologies that could be used with mindBEAGLE. Finally, we were extremely active in dissemination and outreach. We presented mindBEAGLE at major conferences and public workshops in the USA and Europe. Drs. Allison and Edlinger hosted a parallel session at the Human Computer Interaction International (HCII) conference in Toronto in July 2016 and presented a paper there that presents mindBEAGLE and initial results. In November 2016 a Workshop is organized at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Our overall plan is to advance beyond the current state of the art, which provides very limited mechanisms for assessment and communication with persons diagnosed with DOC. We will further develop the assessment and communication capabilities within our current mindBEAGLE prototype and add tools for rehabilitation and prediction. We have begun exploring and pilot-testing new business models, including new concepts for a gymnasium attached to hospitals and on-site service to help target patients. The potential impact on patients and their friends and family is considerable, since we will provide new ways to identify patients’ capabilities and provide currently nonexistent ways to help them. Our approach should reduce costs for patient diagnosis and care and provide dignity and hope to a segment of the population that very much needs new technologies and services.

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