Spinal Muscular Atrophy, SMA in short, strongly affects muscle strength and dexterity. Ben, for example, relies heavily on the little strength that’s left in his index finger. In this story he elaborates on the assistive devices he uses, including the ultra-sensitive Micro Joystick Omni (5gr adapted). It gives him the confidence to enjoy a more social and independent life.
"I feel confident enjoying a social life again without a personal assistant hovering over my shoulder."
- Ben from Swindon, UK
Finding the right assistive devices
Ben, now twenty-two years old and recent graduate from the University of Winchester, drove his first wheelchair at two years old. Currently, he combines several assistive devices. Ben explains, “I have my Salsa M2 wheelchair to get everywhere I need, I use voice recognition to type, and the R-net Bluetooth module to use my iPhone and Mac.” On top of that, he needs extremely sensitive and lightweight switches and joysticks.
The search for these last ones proved to be difficult. Ben was already using the Micro Joystick but he started to struggle with the eight grams of force. It got more difficult to drive his wheelchair. “I spent many hours looking online for suitable products but without luck”, Ben adds. He got in touch with mo-vis and discovered we had an ultra-sensitive joystick in development.
An easy to install and ultra-sensitive joystick
Cooperating with Said Akbar, Clinical Technologist at Oxford Centre for Enablement, Ben could test our ultra-sensitive joystick and has been using it ever since. It requires only five grams of force. Said admits, “This joystick is great and helps to meet the needs of people on the borderline of being able to use an eight grams joystick.” The joystick will be used for future driving assessments at the centre.
“This ultra-sensitive and easy to use joystick helps to meet the needs of people on the borderline of being able to use an eight grams joystick.”
- Said Akbar, Clinical Technologist at Oxford Centre of Enablement
The swap from Ben’s Micro Joystick to the Micro Joystick Omni (5 gr adapted) went easily. Ben explains, “Because I was already using the Micro Joystick, I and my engineering team were in a good starting position.” It took approximately an hour to install the joystick. Additional software configuration ensures that individual needs are met.
Confidently enjoying social life
According to Ben, the joystick is extremely easy to use. It is light enough for someone with limited strength and stable enough to guarantee a comfortable driving experience. With the new version of the joystick, Ben is more independent. He explains, “I am able to enjoy a social life again and can interact with friends without a personal assistant hovering over my shoulder.”
Lastly, we want to thank Ben for his openness on sharing his experience. We hope you’re off to a good career start after obtaining your degree in Broadcast Journalism. Do you recognize yourself in this story? Or do you support someone with limited muscle strength? Contact us for case-specific advice.