Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

BackHome: technological assistance in the transition from hospital to home for patients with severe disabilities

BackHome is funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union and led by Barcelona Digital Technology Centre in Spain.
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Hi, my name is Paul*. I’m 30 years old and just suffered a stroke with serious consequences that, for now at least, prevent me from being independent. I’m about to leave the hospital where I was admitted several months ago to finally return home, and there I’ll have the help of Amanda, a highly trained care professional that will help me to adapt to my new life. Furthermore, I have been invited to take part in a research project that, according to doctors, may assist me with my rehabilitation, helping me to be more independent and to complete my daily activities, thanks to new technologies. This will benefit people in the future as well.

I’m talking about BackHome, funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union and led by Barcelona Digital Technology Centre in Spain. BackHome aims to bring BNCI (Brain-Neural Computer Interface) technologies, which have so far been used in research environments, to practical applications used at home by people with disabilities. BackHome current research is working with people who had brain injury and are now stable, living at home. In the long term it aims to study the patient’s transition from the hospital to home and to help him or her to accomplish things that would be difficult to do otherwise or would mean depending on a caregiver.

The objective, among other things, is for people with severe physical disabilities to be able to control their surroundings in the home with home automation sensors and interact and communicate with friends and family through usual means such as email, Facebook or Twitter.

With regard to controlling the home, the BackHome system includes different sensors (of gas, smoke, light, humidity and temperature) that will provide me with a lot of information about my house, as well as systems for controlling the light, the TV and a security camera. I’ll also have a web browser that I’ll be able to control and that will let me surf the Internet with a special system to write emails and another to listen to music, watch videos and films.

BackHome is also developing other applications for rehabilitation, like a remote monitoring and therapy system so services can transition from hospital to home as people continue to recover in their homes. The computer games and exercices will help me to improve my attention, memory and concentration. With the Brain Painting system, among other things, I’ll be able to perform creative plastic activities. Also, my quality of life and level of fatigue when using this system will be evaluated automatically.

Whether related to controlling the home or to rehabilitation, I’ll be able to perform all these activities using my brain waves thanks to a cap with sensors and a BCI computer interface that read and interpret my brain impulses and act upon my environment to help me to be more independent and to improve my quality of life.

The project includes two pilot sites with therapists and real users, one in the United Kingdom and the other in Germany. The project platform, which allows people at the hospital to telemonitor users at home, will be tested in real users’ homes. We hope that the results may lead to new technological developments, such as improved integrated electrode systems, flexible and user-friendly BNCI software and better telemonitoring and home support tools.

Later I’ll explain how my return home and rehabilitation is going thanks to the BNCI. So stay tuned and have a look at our video!

[*] The content of this blog simulates a real user for informational purposes.

*** Disclaimer: This blog post is written by an external contributor. The author is not part of the staff of the European Commission.