Digital Alternative Communication for Individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: What We Have

J Clin Med. 2023 Aug 11;12(16):5235. doi: 10.3390/jcm12165235.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a disease that compromises the motor system and the functional abilities of the person in an irreversible way, causing the progressive loss of the ability to communicate. Tools based on Augmentative and Alternative Communication are essential for promoting autonomy and improving communication, life quality, and survival. This Systematic Literature Review aimed to provide evidence on eye-image-based Human-Computer Interaction approaches for the Augmentative and Alternative Communication of people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The Systematic Literature Review was conducted and guided following a protocol consisting of search questions, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and quality assessment, to select primary studies published between 2010 and 2021 in six repositories: Science Direct, Web of Science, Springer, IEEE Xplore, ACM Digital Library, and PubMed. After the screening, 25 primary studies were evaluated. These studies showcased four low-cost, non-invasive Human-Computer Interaction strategies employed for Augmentative and Alternative Communication in people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The strategies included Eye-Gaze, which featured in 36% of the studies; Eye-Blink and Eye-Tracking, each accounting for 28% of the approaches; and the Hybrid strategy, employed in 8% of the studies. For these approaches, several computational techniques were identified. For a better understanding, a workflow containing the development phases and the respective methods used by each strategy was generated. The results indicate the possibility and feasibility of developing Human-Computer Interaction resources based on eye images for Augmentative and Alternative Communication in a control group. The absence of experimental testing in people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis reiterates the challenges related to the scalability, efficiency, and usability of these technologies for people with the disease. Although challenges still exist, the findings represent important advances in the fields of health sciences and technology, promoting a promising future with possibilities for better life quality.

Keywords: chronic neurological conditions; communication assistance; computer vision; image processing; machine learning; neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Review