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Disability Profile: Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time. Most common causes are:

  1. Automobile Accidents
  2. Motorcycle Accidents
  3. Diving Injuries
  4. Bogie Boarding, Downhill Skiing, Skydiving, and other extreme sports
  5. Freak Household Accidents such as falling off a ladder board shipping over the dog walking down your basement steps and just hitting your head or neck the wrong way.
  6. Forced Landing of private aircraft after engine failure, when it flips upside down 40 feet off the ground and you land on your head with the airplane on top of you! (Mark Felling, Broadened Horizons President unique story)

Spinal cord injuries are RELATIVELY permanent.

A spinal cord injury does not affect mental faculties.  While some injuries may have a combined spinal cord injury and tonight brain injury, individuals limited by spinal cord injury are fully capable of anything and everything with the exception of moving parts of their body.

Levels of Quadriplegiaout

  • C1:  Neck is broken severing skull from spine.  On a ventilator

  • C2: On a ventilator  (fused with C1 doesn't break very often)

  • C3: On a ventilator (some can use an electric diaphragm pacer if patient has weak signal to diaphragm)

  • Can clench jaw and move head (limited)  no arm movement.  Head gamer, quad mouse, sip/puff play package.

  • C1, C2 probably no sip/puff.  Many C3 can use sip/puff

  • C4:  No arm movement, little bit of forearm movement.  Shrug shoulders, muscle sensor switch.  Wrex exoskeleton if they have movement limited by gravity.  No finger movement.

  • Drive wheel chair with head array.

  • Head control, sip puff items, roughneck switch (on shoulders)

  • C5:   tenodesis orthosis.  Floppy wrists.  Power grip candidate can touch chin.  Passive wrist splints.  Determine range of arm movement.  Might use manual wheel chair, but very limited, very difficult.  Unless using power assist wheels.

  • C6:  tenodesis (some thumb movement)  more sensation down hand.  More upper body movement, pectorals, and deltoids.  Manual wheel chair, often with power assist wheels.  Can transfer self from chair to bed if circumstances are favorable.

  • C7:  tenodesis (some thumb movement)  inch or 2 down from top of shoulders.  Can use manual chair.  Weak paraplegic.

  • 4 types of sensation.

  • Muscle grade, 2 lift against gravity.  3 can lift against light preassure.

  • Spinobifida (leison on spine that blocks signals from getting below.)

  • PowerGrip for people with CP, bracial paralases, some MS, some ALS.



Assistive Technology - Communications & Computer Access

Stephen Murray - Staying Strong with the Tobii PCEyeIt was an amazing freedom to be able to use a computer againUsing the Tobii PCEye at work


Watch the video where Stephen explains some of the benefits with eye control.Accessing a computer and the Internet, using only your eyes, can help you regain a healthy level of personal independence and improve your personal well-being. IT can even be an anti depressant.

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Post on Facebook, using your eyes

Use the Tobii PCEye to post to FacebookThe Tobii PCEye provides you with access to the functions of your computer, but instead of using a traditional keyboard, mouse, headmouse, or any other switch you use your eyes. Learn more about computer access...

Computer Access can help put you back in touch with the world and

Lonely, no privacy and isolated from the outside world. This is how many people describe life after the occurrence of SCI. Going from total freedom and independence, to having to rely on others for everything can take its toll on happiness, health and well being. Being able to control a computer and access the Internet can help immensely.

News and information, socializing and staying in touch with friends and family, work, education and entertainment – it all can help put you back in touch with the world and yourself. An increasing number of people with SCI are regaining total access to their computers and the Internet with the help of eye control devices like the Tobii PCEye – now you can too.

The benefits of web and computer access

With access to a computer, quality of life improves dramatically. In a recent study of computer users suffering from SCI, participants said that the Internet was an entertaining, interesting, and exciting pastime that kept them from being bored and gave them increased access to the outside world. They felt that this had a positive effect on their emotional health and overall well-being.*

Social interaction

Accessing the Internet also allows you to connect with people and lead an active, healthy social life. E-mail makes it easier to stay in touch with friends and family and there are plenty of opportunities for meeting new people online. Social networking sites like Facebook and blogs can keep you up to date, while forums and chat rooms let you find likeminded people and let you speak your mind.

Quality information

The amount of quality information available online is vast and by gaining the ability to access it, those with SCI can benefit. In the same study, SCI participants found the Internet as not only a pastime, but also as an educational tool where they could find useful information concerning their disability and health, search for jobs, get an education, stay up to date with current events, as well as interests.

Computer access through gaze interaction

So what is the best way to gain access to a computer? It is not with a mouth stick, not with a trackball and not with a sip and puff device. Eye tracking is the quickest and easiest way. With a device like the Tobii PCEye Go or PRo you can control a computer using only your eyes and receive the following benefits:

  • Quick and easy computer access on nearly any PC
  • Portability for use both at work and home
  • On-screen keyboard for fast writing and communication
  • Accurate pupil tracking of nearly any eye type, even with lenses or glasses
  • Compatible with an extensive range of software
  • A large track box that allows for a wide range of movement

*Bethlyn Vergo Houlihan, Mari-Lynn Drainoni, Grace Warner, Shanker Nesathurai, Jane Wierbicky, Steven Williams; “The impact of Internet access for people with spinal cord injuries: a descriptive analysis of a pilot study”; Disability and Rehabilitation, 2003; vol. 25, no. 8, 422–431




Get employed. Earn more.

Computer access can help individuals with SCI get reemployed.Studies say that individuals with a spinal cord injury, who still are able to use a computer are much more likely to be able to keep or get a job and to earn much more than those who can't use a computer. Learn more about gaze control and employment...

People with spinal cord injuries can get back to work quicker with a Tobii PCEye

The workplace is an important part of life. It is not only a way for you to make a living and contribute to society, but also a vital environment for social interaction, achieving goals, personal satisfaction and a sense of belonging.

The occurrence of SCI, unfortunately, can strip you of this meaningful part of life and make it extremely difficult to regain.  With the ability and skills to use a computer, however, you can make a quicker return to the workplace, earn a salary that is in-line with non-SCI workers and gain a feeling of fulfillment in meeting challenges and making a difference. It begins with eye control technology and the Tobii PCEye makes it possible.

Increase your chances to get back to work

Studies show that SCI drastically lowers an individual’s chances of getting a job. Only 40 percent of those suffering from SCI return to work after their injury, while only 25.6 percent of these return to work full-time.*

The good news however, is that computer skills are a factor that can greatly increase your chances of employment after SCI. With the ability to use a computer through an eye tracking device, those with SCI have nearly the same employment rate and salary as non-SCI workers.*

Higher salaries

A higher salary is just one benefit of computer skills.  The typical wages for both SCI and non-SCI computer users are nearly identical, whereas workers with SCI unable to use computers at work earn approximately 40 percent less than non-users of computers in the general population.*

Increased quality of life

Computer skills can also lead to increased happiness and a more satisfying and independent life. With the ability to use a computer at work, those with SCI have the opportunity to interact with people on a daily basis, be part of the team and regain the sense of belonging that is one of the most important aspects of the workplace. It also allows for better decision-making, the chance to be a leader and see the results of hard work. Users can accomplish more on their own and work can be done more efficiently.

Computer access through eye control

Nina runs several companies and the Tobii PCEye helps her out.
Surveys say that individuals with SCI who can use
a computer are much more likely to get reemployed.*

The Tobii PCEye is a portable eye tracking device and one of the most effective ways for those suffering from SCI to gain computer access in order to re-enter the workplace. It is easy to use, quick to set up, highly accurate and provides total control of your computer using only your eyes. The Tobii PCEye helps SCI users return to work through:

  • Easy, one-time calibration for quick computer access
  • Compatibility with nearly any PC
  • Portability for use both at work and home
  • A high performance, built-in processor for optimal computer speed
  • Accurate pupil tracking of nearly any eye type, even with lenses or glasses
  • Compatible with an extensive range of software
  • A large track box that allows for a wide range of movement

Alan Kruger and Douglas Kruse; Labor Market Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries in the Dawn of the Computer Age, NBER Working Paper 5302, National Bureau of Economic Research: