Can EPOC be used by people with little or no muscle control?

We repeatedly receive inquiries about use of the EPOC by people with varying degrees of paralysis and many different conditions such as ALS, cerebral palsy, stroke, muscular dystrophy, spinal injury and so on. This forum stream is intended to provide some initial answers - please feel free to ask more but hopefully we can cover your initial questions here.

The EPOC detections are divided into categories - Mental Commands, Performance Metrics and Facial Expressions.

Facial Expressions are basically derived from facial muscle activations. As delivered, the software has a "universal" model of facial detections with adjustable sensitivity for each one. Some people with disabilities are able to work these, others not. We provide an option to retrain the underlying detections, which can actually recover "intended" expressions for many users with partial paralysis - so they can try to smile, and their characteristic facial response is detected if they repeat the movement. I can't say whether this will help any particular individual - it depends on whether they retain much residual movement. Facial Expressions also detects blinks, winks and horizontal eye movements, which most people retain to an extent.

Performance Metrics tracks the user's emotional state, in terms of Excitement, Frustration, Engagement/Boredom and Meditation. This can be used to set ambient music type and volume, lighting intensity or as a panic switch. These detections were designed mostly for gameplay and are not medical grade detections, so there will be times when they drift away from the user's state of mind, but much of the time they work quite well, especially under gaming conditions.

Mental Commands is intended to work from brain signals alone, and we have some locked-in and partially paralyzed users who can still operate the detections with mental signals as their only possible output. The system can also work from included muscle signal although we recommend users try to avoid this for greater accuracy and control. Mental Commands allows the user to train up to 13 specific named actions (plus NEUTRAL) however only four can be active at one time. This means that you can specify up to four of the available actions to be activated, and when the user repeats one of these mental patterns that action is detected (in other words, the system picks out one action of the available four, or the neutral state if no trained actions are detected).

We also provide a 2-axis gyro which can be used as a pointing device or yes/no detection, for example, if the user has sufficient control of their head and neck movements.

So in short, most people with varying degrees of paralysis can certainly operate the EPOC in some way. There may be an issue with the headband at the rear if the user requires a head support, however the headset can usually be placed to avoid the support or even placed on backwards if necessary. Mental Commands continues to work in this orientation, some Facial Expression detections are retained, others can be retrained and some are lost with the headset reversed. Excitement continues to work but the other Performance Metrics detections are less likely to work properly with a reversed headset, although they are not totally lost.

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