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A head controlled computer - in bed

Shared by Giesbert Nijhuis on 2016-10-29 18:08

About the solution

Because of a very high spinal cord injury, I'm almost completely paralyzed, can only move my head. When in my wheelchair, I can work with a head controlled computer in my living room. But I'm in bed most of the time: at night, during the care, and sometimes I have to stay in bed for days or even weeks. I need access to a computer 24/7, day ánd night. Big question was "how can I get computer access in bed while lying flat on my back??" There was no solution available (1997).

In the beginning, it was an almost impossible task, as a small monitor weight about 40Kg. Hanging that above your head would be dangerous. Everything computer back then was: large, heavy, noisy. But after some years, the first flat monitors came, and everything else computer was improving also. What I show on this page is my third head controlled bed computer, made in in 2016.

Above my bed-end, is the self-designed construction that holds a monitor and a head controlled computer. The only possible position I can be in for a sustained period of time, is laying on my back. There is just one position the computer monitor has to be in. I get in and out bed by mobile elevator. This is possible without hitting the monitor. But for just in case; the monitor can be pushed out of the way into an upright position.

The computer has to be a small and silent desktop computer. I'm a Mac user, so that reduces the options. I use a Mac mini, which is fine, though not very powerful. One other option of today would be the Mac Pro (beautiful, but expensive and old).

The screen resolution can not be very large, max 1920*1080 at 72dpi in my case, because I position the cursor by bumping the cursor against the borders, and the amount of movement of a neck is limited. Important is a screen technology that has dark blacks, for at night you want a dark screen. IPS is probably the best type at this (2016) moment.

What all is in the box? A lot!
- a small and silent desktop computer (Mac mini)
- a monitor (23 inch)
- an Origin HeadMouse
- computer speakers (include the amplifier)
- a microphone
- external harddisks
- usb hub
- IR controlled electricity socket
- a puff-to-click-switch, going to the HeadMouse or USB input device.

A puff-to-switch-tube must always be within reach of the mouth. I use a piece of hydraulic tube, the kind that is normally used in excavators and such. When bent in position, it stays in that position (until it wares out, which is after about 2 years).

You'll need an on-screen keyboard, as an ordinary keyboard is no option. The best one for Mac is: Keystrokes. Lately (2016) Apple has included an on-screenkeyboard in the system, but it lacks important options and comfort.

Making telephone calls? Over the internet with for example Skye, or use dialing software plus a USB modem, for example Dialectic and the USRobotics 56K USB modem. I use both, so if the internet is down, I can still make a call.

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

December 1995, at the age of 26, as a passenger in a small bus… The rented bus was of poor quality, the road was of bad design, the weather was not good, and the driver did not sleep long enough. Since then I am almost completely paralyzed. A high spinal cord injury C3/4. I can only move my head, and have about 1/4 long power. But I am still alive, today it is 2016. 20 years of survival. I made a website without using my hands, only using head movements, with lots on it: www.laesieworks.com

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