WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The ALS Association and Prize4Life announced today the five finalists for the ALS Assistive Technology Challenge, a $400,000 award for the development of flexible, accessible technology to help people with ALS communicate with ease. The winner of the challenge will be selected in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday, Dec. 5 at the International Symposium of ALS/MND.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. There is no cure, and only one drug modestly extends survival by only a few months. "We are extremely grateful for all the submission received for the challenge," said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. "We look forward to the official judging in Dublin, which includes not only notable ALS scientists and technology experts but also people living with the disease, who will know better than anyone the impact this new technology will have in adapting to the symptoms of ALS and improving quality of life." Team name: Project Vive Lead investigator:Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, CEO & Founder Team members:Joseph McCulloch, CTO, Rodney Miller, Lead Developer Location:Howard, Pa.Team name: Pison Technology Lead investigator: Dexter Ang Team members:David Cipoletta, Julia Zhu, Wenxin Feng and Kyle ConnorsLocation:Brookline, Mass.Team name: Boston Children's Hospital Lead investigator:John M. Costello, Director of ALS Augmentative Communication Program, Boston Children's Hospital Team members:Ole Alexander Maehle, Vice President of Engineering; Ragnar Mjelde, Program Manager; David Lee, Project Manager; TobiiDynavox International Location:Boston, Mass.Team name: Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior Lead investigator:Peter Desain, Chair of Artificial Intelligence Team members:Joost Raaphorst, Jan Groothuis, Janneke Weikamp, Radboud University Medical Center (NL), Neurology and Rehabilitation Departments; Bart van de Warrenburg, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior (NL), Knowledge Utilisation; Evy Reviers, ALS Liga (BE), Patient Associations, Communication; Mike Chi, Cognionics (VS), EEG equipment; Merijn Klarenbeek, WeBoost, (NL) Project Management; Peter Ossenkoppele, rdgKompagne, (NL) Assistive Technology Provider Location: Nijmegen, The NetherlandsTeam name: BlueSky Designs Lead investigator:Dianne Goodwin, M.E., B.M.E. Team members:Nick Lee, Marty Stone and Peter LoefflerLocation:Minneapolis, Minn. To learn more about the ALS Assistive Technology Challenge, and read short descriptions of the prototypes developed by the five finalists, please visit http://www.alsa.org/research/als-assistive-technology-challenge-prize-phase-finalists.html. About The ALS AssociationThe ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131211/MM32178LOGO