Impairment of an individual's ability to communicate is a major hurdle for active participation in education and social life. A lot of individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) have normal intelligence, however, due to their inability to communicate, they fall behind. Non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have been proposed as potential assistive devices for individuals with CP. BCIs translate brain signals directly into action. Motor activity is no longer required. However, translation of EEG signals may be unreliable and requires months of training. Moreover, individuals with CP may exhibit high levels of spontaneous and uncontrolled movement, which has a large impact on EEG signal quality and results in incorrect translations. We introduce a novel thought-based row-column scanning communication board that was developed following user-centered design principles. Key features include an automatic online artifact reduction method and an evidence accumulation procedure for decision making. The latter allows robust decision making with unreliable BCI input. Fourteen users with CP participated in a supporting online study and helped to evaluate the performance of the developed system. Users were asked to select target items with the row-column scanning communication board. The results suggest that seven among eleven remaining users performed better than chance and were consequently able to communicate by using the developed system. Three users were excluded because of insufficient EEG signal quality. These results are very encouraging and represent a good foundation for the development of real-world BCI-based communication devices for users with CP.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Brain, Computer interface, Electroencephalogram, Cerebral palsy, Sensory motor rhythm, Human-computer interaction, Communication board, Assistive technology