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Tongue Piercing Will Drive Wheelchairs

Update Date: Nov 28, 2013 11:31 AM EST

Scientists have discovered a way to control wheel chairs through body piercings. An experimental device essentially a magnet in a tongue piercing is detected by sensors and eventually converted into commands. These commands can be used to control slew of devices.

Scientists believe that the method is successful because tongue has an amazing “deftness”.

Our tongue is flexible enough to move and scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology used this ability to attain such an outcome.

Scientists also reported that the technique was used as pilot program on 11 paralyzed people. Also the people were rapidly learning the use of tongue device to control their wheelchairs.

“It’s really powerful because it’s so intuitive,” said Jason DiSanto, 39, of Atlanta, according to ABC News. DiSanto was among the first spinal cord-injured patients to get his tongue pierced for science and try out the system. “The first time I did it, people thought I was driving for, like, years.”

“For people who have very limited ability to control a power wheelchair, there aren’t that many options,” said Dr. Brad Dicianno to ABC News, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who wasn’t involved with the new research. “There is some interesting promise for this tongue control.”

Other idea behind choosing the tongue over any other body part is that people with spinal cord injuries and neurologic diseases are also able to move at least their tongue. Also the tongue is less tireless comparatively.

“While this may only be beneficial to those with the profoundest motor dysfunction, being able to capture the tongue’s complex range of motion to command other assistive devices seems a valuable avenue to explore,” said Dr Mark Bacon to BBC, the director of research at the charity Spinal Research.

“After all the tongue is capable of the most exquisite commands through the act of speech so why not use that range of motion to command assistive devices more discretely,” he added.

The development is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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