Nationwide survey of 780 Japanese patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: their status and expectations from brain-machine interfaces.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes eventual death through respiratory failure unless mechanical ventilation is provided. Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) may provide brain control supports for communication and motor function. We investigated the interests and expectations of patients with ALS concerning BMIs based on a large-scale anonymous questionnaire survey supported by the Japan Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.We surveyed 1918 patients with ALS regarding their present status, tracheostomy use, interest in BMIs, and their level of expectation for communication (conversation, emergency alarm, internet, and writing letters) and movement support (postural change, controlling the bed, controlling household appliances, robotic arms, and wheel chairs).Seven hundred and eighty participants responded. Fifty-eight percent of the participants underwent tracheostomy. Approximately, 80% of the patients experienced stress or trouble during communication. For all nine supports, > 60% participants expressed expectations regarding BMIs. More than 98% of participants who underwent tracheostomy expected support with conversation and emergency alarms. Participants who did not undergo tracheostomy exhibited significantly greater expectations than participants with tracheostomy did regarding all five movement supports. Seventy-seven percent of participants were interested in BMIs. Participants aged 

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