Brain Computer Interface

Children living with conditions such as a stroke, spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy can suffer from severe limitations in their mobility and capacity to communicate. Fully aware and capable, but unable to walk, talk or use their hands, these children are trapped in their bodies.

Thanks to generous community support, world-first research in Brain Computer Interface (BCI) for kids is underway at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

BCI has the potential to engage children – many of whom otherwise cannot communicate – in learning and play. BCI technology recognizes changes in thought patterns via a non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) and transmits those signals to control devices such as computers, phones, TV remotes and more. While wearing a BCI headset, a child can think the word “go,” for example, to move a remote-controlled car forward.

“BCI is an exploding field of study with enormous potential for severely disabled people,” says pediatric neurologist, Dr. Adam Kirton. “However, to date, there has been very little focus on how to adapt it for pediatric users.”

Recognizing the incredible possibilities for children, Dr. Kirton and his team established the BCI4Kids program to try to find new pathways for young children to interact with the world and realize new levels of independence. The Alberta Children’s Hospital is one of only a few places in the world giving children the opportunity to access BCI and has garnered a reputation nationally and internationally as a leader in this area of innovative research.

“We are extremely grateful to our community for helping us launch and grow this program,” says Dr. Kirton. “For severely disabled young people, BCI4Kids aims to make the impossible possible.”