Dr. Andrew Geronimo is a talented young investigator using brain computer interface (BCI) technology to improve the lives of people living with ALS by enhancing their ability to communicate. He and his mentor Dr. Zachary Simmons, also at Penn
State Hershey Medical Center, have received a grant from The ALS Association to develop new opportunities for BCI technology. Together they work to train people living with ALS and their caregivers on how to setup and best use BCI in their homes through a telemedicine program. Through this work, they are continuously optimizing the BCI system.
“The ultimate goal for our research is make a difference now for people living with ALS. By listening to their needs and engineering a BCI to meet those needs,” stated Dr. Geronimo.
What is Brain Computer Interface (BCI)?
BCI is exactly what it sounds like: a direct connection between the brain and the computer. Normally, connections are made between the brain and muscles via motor neurons. Motor neurons in the brain relay a signal to the muscles to move.
In ALS, motor neurons are damaged and those connections break. This results in muscle weakness and eventually paralysis. BCI is revolutionary in that it makes up for that lost connection.