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SpecialEffect News

15 May 2020

Eye-controlled computer helps Bex stay connected

Meet Bex, who we’ve been helping since January with the loan and support of an eye-controlled tablet computer courtesy of our StarGaze project, a vital service that introduces this cutting-edge technology when it matters most - in intensive care right after a serious life-changing illness or injury leaves a person severely injured or paralysed. We’re grateful to Bex and her family for kindly allowing us to share her story.

“Our daughter Bex suffered a brain stem stroke and is, currently, unable to speak,” said her family. “She’s paralysed from the neck down, so she’s unable to use any standard equipment.”

The hospital’s therapy team invited us to visit Bex after hearing about the project, which harnesses our expertise in eye-gaze and other highly specialised assistive technology. The aim is to help people regain as much communication and independence as possible following their trauma.

“The SpecialEffect team visited Bex, bringing an eye-gaze tablet which was equipped to enable her to compile words, spell out sentences using predictive text, play games, control basic functions of her TV and access YouTube content. She also has access to her favourite music, which is stored on the tablet.”

It’s hard for Bex to move her eyes to all areas of the screen, so much of our support has involved using our experience to design bespoke screen layouts that give her access to all these activities. Several follow-up visits have also enabled us to increase the accuracy of the calibration of the equipment, show others how to use it, and help Bex develop her skills. And when Bex left hospital, our team continued to offer assistance.

“They followed Bex to her rehab centre, where they further added to the tablet’s facilities. Now, due to COVID-19, there’s a complete lock-out of visitors and professionals into the centre, so the tablet is now also being used for Bex to have video links with family and friends.”

Although further face-to-face visits aren’t possible at the moment, video calls and online help are providing essential continuity of support. We’re working remotely with the therapists at the rehab centre and exploring ways for Bex to move on towards control of email and social media.

We’re so pleased to be able to carry on helping Bex and we’re looking forward to meeting up with her and her family again as soon as it becomes possible.

“SpecialEffect is highly recommended,” said her family. “A great resource.”

Below: Bex using one of our custom screen layouts, They’re carefully designed to suit the accuracy and range of her eye movement.

Bex in bed looking at a computer with an onscreen grid of letter groups

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