Case Study – Squeeze Switch

Gerald sustained a serious traumatic brain injury in a road traffic accident. He has required 24 hour care since that time and needs assistance with activities of daily living. Sadly, he has significant cognitive impairment.

We were approached to assess whether assistive technology could enable Gerald to have more access to his environment, in particular to leisure activities.

As Gerald is visually impaired, it was important to select methods of accessing technology which did not rely on sight.

Accordingly, we configured an Apple iPad to act as a switch. By touching the iPad screen, Gerald was able to start and stop audible activities, such as an app which produces the sound of fireworks and causes the iPad to vibrate. Gerald was able to sense this vibration thorough his fingers and also hear the fireworks.

Squeeze switch 1

Such simple activities can aid therapists to assess whether an individual can understand cause and effect and provide a useful training method to introduce more complex switch access to technology.

As Gerald clearly understood this activity, and enjoyed it, we suggested to him that he might try another kind of switch, which would enable him to listen to sounds. We were aware that he enjoyed music and had an ultimate goal of Gerald being able to choose and play music using switch access.

We were aware that he would need to develop skills to do this and provided him with a ‘squeeze switch’. By operating this with his hand, Gerald was able to play a game where he had to identify a sound which played at the first squeeze. If he didn’t know what sound this was, a second squeeze would provide the answer.

This game went down very well and the next stage will be to introduce Gerald to his own switch controlled music system.

We will report back in due course…

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