Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Paraplegic Pianists Can Operate A Piano Pedal With The Mouth

Date:
October 27, 2008
Source:
University Hospital Heidelberg
Summary:
Scientists have developed a method with which a pianist can operate the right pedal of a concert grand wirelessly -- a first in the world. A paraplegic pianist can thus overcome the handicap of being able to play the piano using only his arms and hands.

A wish could come true for paraplegics who play the piano and are paralyzed from the hips down: the Heidelberg researcher Dr. Rüdiger Rupp has developed a method with which a pianist can operate the right pedal of a concert grand wirelessly – a first in the world.

Related Articles


A paraplegic pianist can thus overcome the handicap of being able to play the piano using only his arms and hands.

For more than 20 years, there have been electromagnetic pedal controls for paraplegic pianists – mostly accident victims – that were invented by the renowned Bayreuth piano manufacturer Steingraeber & Söhne and are custom made. Pulse generators such as light sensors, headrests, back cushions, neck braces, and mouth tubes make it possible for disabled pianists to play pieces that include pedal work – the complete works from Beethoven to the contemporary period.

Pedal controls via a bite splint

The disadvantage of these technical solutions is that magnets are too undifferentiated for use with pianos because they can only switch the pedal on and off. “Intermediate stages such as half-pedal or flutter were not possible. In addition, traditional assistive devices were visible to concert viewers”, summarizes Dr. Rüdiger Rupp* the disadvantages of the current systems.

His ingenious invention allows the Heidelberg researchers to compensate for this decisive failing. Together with his team, he developed a bite splint over almost two years with a pressure-sensitive sensor that the pianist can hold in his mouth to control the pedal according to the markings on the music.

This bite splint was the solution for the problem faced by a paraplegic professional pianist from Norway with which the piano maker from Bayreuth approached Dr. Rupp. The concert can be held without any visible cables or devices, thus approaching normality. “We assess the strength with which a paraplegic clenches his teeth. Depending on how strongly he does this, he can control the pedal position,” describes the Heidelberg re-searcher his innovation.

This uses a highly sensitive strength or pressure sensor, which is embedded in the chewing surface of a bite splint attached to the upper jaw. “The disabled patient can thus control the entire range of pedal action – including intermediate positions and the speed with which the pedal is depressed,” explained Rupp.

Transmitter in the cheek

A wireless transmitter is installed to an electric motor attached to the pedals of the concert grand. A remote module, a kind of miniature transmitter with minimal power consumption placed in the right cheek, forwards the sensor signals to the electric motor, which then operates the pedal. The remote module, originally introduced by a US company, is customized to the needs of the user.

In his left cheek, the paraplegic pianist has a button cell that provides energy for twelve hours. The innovation in this highly sophisticated system is that analog, i.e. graduated signals are transmitted consisting of far more than just “on-off”. When pedal markings appear in the notes, the paraplegic pianist literally grits his teeth, to a greater or lesser extent – and can achieve the same differentiated sounds as a non-disabled pianist.

New project:  control pedals with the tongue

For some ten years, the researcher from Heidelberg and his co-workers have been developing systems with which paralyzed people (paraplegics and quadriplegics) can control technical aids. Rupp’s group of researchers have specialized especially in system for Functional Electrical Stimulation, what are known as neuroprosthetics, with which high-level paraplegics can regain part of the grasping function of a paralyzed hand. His newest invention makes it possible for paraplegic pianists whose legs are paralyzed to perform in public again and go on tours – another bit of normality for the disabled.  

With the help of the award money, Rüdiger Rupp and his team are already working on the next step, aimed at the other two pedals of the grand piano and enhancing control – a pressure-sensitive film placed behind the incisors will measure tongue strength and position and convert them to corresponding analog signals that are transmitted directly to the pedals of the concert grand.

*Dr. Rupp, director of the research department at the spinal cord injury unit of the Orthopedic Clinic of Heidelberg University Hospital (Director: Prof. Dr. Hans Jürgen Gerner), was honored for this invention with € 15,000 from the Innovation Award 2008 of the German Paraplegic Foundation (DSQ). 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Hospital Heidelberg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Hospital Heidelberg. "Paraplegic Pianists Can Operate A Piano Pedal With The Mouth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081024103211.htm>.
University Hospital Heidelberg. (2008, October 27). Paraplegic Pianists Can Operate A Piano Pedal With The Mouth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081024103211.htm
University Hospital Heidelberg. "Paraplegic Pianists Can Operate A Piano Pedal With The Mouth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081024103211.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) — The first flight of Etihad Airways' long-awaited Airbus A380 superjumbo will take place later in December, the Abu Dhabi carrier said Thursday, also announcing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner route. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins