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02-18-1999

Doctor Behind Revolutionary Process To Help Paralyzed Communicate: Speaks At Clarkson Feb. 28

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/kennedy.jpg]

Nearly one year ago, a 53-year-old man – a victim of cerebral hemorrhage which left him unable to speak – underwent a radical surgical procedure: an electrode was implanted into his brain Kennedyfor use in communicating with others via computer.

Dr. Phillip Kennedy, M.D., Ph.D., the man behind the idea, will discuss “Brain-Computer Interface: A Boon for the Paralyzed” on Sunday, February 28, at Clarkson University’s Cheel Campus Center. Kennedy is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. during a continental brunch in Barben Rooms A & B, and at 2:00 p.m. Barben Room B. All are welcome to attend.

Kennedy, who spent 12 years researching his project, will discuss his work, and how it could change the way those who are victims of paralysis or a stroke communicate. Up until now, most individuals who could not speak used an oversized alphabet on a computer screen, blinking on letters to type out their thoughts. Kennedy’s procedure involves a glass-encased electrode and wires.

“The container has trophic factors in it,” Kennedy explained last March in an interview with Salon magazine. “These induce growth into the tip, so the brain tissue grows in there, and the wires record across the tissue. And we transmit those signals out across the skin with another transmitter, pick them up, amplify them, and run them through a computer. We use that to then feed back to the patient, so the patients can hear the signals, and hear the firing of their own brain.” The patient’s brain impulses are transmitted to a computer through the use of an antenna on the forehead. By increasing the brain’s firing rate through concentration, the patient can move the cursor on-screen.

Dr. Kennedy has a solo practice in Decatur, Ga., and is president and founder of Neural Signals Inc. in Atlanta. He is also an assistant professor of neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. A graduate of the National University of Ireland, he also attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and received his Ph.D. in Physiology at Northwestern University.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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