|Where would we be without... nose dots|
|Written by David Brunnen|
|Monday, 09 January 2006 00:00|
The first thing you notice about Chris is the wee shiny dot stuck on the end of his nose.
This is very odd - not because nose-dots have never been in fashion but because it grabs attention over all the other gear that makes Chris's life possible. And in many ways this nose-dot's iconic visibility is entirely appropriate - it is the smallest item that, for Chris, has the greatest future impact.
This is not to disregard or downplay all the technological marvels and devoted care that have played a part from the moment of his cycling accident, through the spinal injuries clinics and eventually at home. With a close-knit family, a small army of carers and the complex capabilities of the UK's National Health Service, there's a patchwork of interdependent resources and amazing gear that enables Chris to find a way forward. But it’s the dot on the end of his nose that makes the difference.
This dot is reflective - and what it reflects is infra-red light. When Chris moves his nose he moves the cursor on his computer screen. When he holds still and pauses for a few milliseconds Chris has clicked - right click or left click as required.
It's commonly understood in the disability world that the loss of one faculty means that you develop better use of others - blind people depend more on hearing and sufferers of deafness may learn to lip-read. Chris has learned, of necessity, to use his head.
Even for a former airline pilot, trained to be in control of complex equipment and challenging situations, the nose-dot driven mouse took a while to master. It's not something that anyone would volunteer to learn except in exceptional circumstances. Fortunately the guidance software, discovered during a spell in Southport's Spinal Injuries Clinic, can be customised for movement speed and click timings - allowing Chris to benefit from the learning process and gradually adapt to high-performance nose twitching.
And the nose-dot makes a huge difference. Customers of his technical trading website or his chat-site for moaners and groaners would have no idea of these nose-dot origins – but for his family it means that Chris is back in business. Back on Skype. Back to helping with the homework, keeping in touch, keeping up with the news, contributing ideas, campaigning for his favourite charity ( www.spinal-research.org ) and all the everyday stuff that most of us take for granted.
This two-year journey from a disaster to nose-enabled working has been much more than the story of the nose-dot. It's a story of a young family pulling together. It's a continuing story of medical care of the highest order and the need for more research into spinal cord injuries. It's a story with a thousand players and whole heap of clever kit, breathing machines, touch sensitive switches, standby generators, electronic monitors, lifting machines, and customised transport.
But what you notice first is the wee shiny dot on the end his nose.
Notes for editors:
The new series of short articles - 'Where would we be without.....' - looks at small innovations that make a huge difference. Written by David Brunnen of Groupe Intellex , this series is available for print publications, broadcast audio and Internet distribution.
For further information on Spinal Research contact the International Spinal Research Trust www.spinal-research.org or call + 44 (0) 1483 898786
|Last Updated on Monday, 01 September 2008 06:02|