Many of us are familiar with the ability of eye tracking technology to help people living with disabling diseases like ALS and multiple sclerosis. However, now patients with a stroke-induced medical condition can have their lives transformed by the power of eye tracking technology like our Eyegaze Edge®.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) are developing communication systems that use eye tracking technologies that will help people with locked in syndrome communicate using the tiny movements they can make only with their eyes.

After a stroke, some patients experience locked in syndrome, a medical condition that happens when part of the brainstem is damaged. This damage causes the paralysis of the facial and body muscles but leaves the eyes unaffected. Patients with locked in syndrome usually remain conscious of their surroundings but cannot move their bodies or express themselves through facial expressions. Many of them can only communicate with the limited movements they make with their eyes.

Students at the UCSD’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, under the leadership of research scientist Nadir Weibel, are working on technologies that can determine different functionalities based upon a patient’s eye movements.

One of these technologies is a device with a tablet-like interface that patients can use by looking at different parts of the display to communicate what they want to do. For example, looking at one part of the screen means the patient wants to dictate a message, while another part is for social media use. The researchers are also looking into other functionalities, such as e-book reading and special musical instruments.

Bob Veillete has benefitted from the researchers’ early technology. Veillete is a Connecticut journalist and jazz pianist who suffered a paralyzing stroke in 2006. Researchers have begun testing their eye tracking technologies to help him communicate with his eye movements.

Click here to learn more about eye tracking and assistive technologies, and check out our weekly blog to read about the lives that have been touched by eye tracking technology.