Device for Paralyzed Veterans

The Technology Transfer Program at the VA is developing an adjustable mouth stick stylus to allow users to effectively use and control tablet computer devices. This technology could benefit individuals with paralysis including those suffering from a stroke or spinal cord injuries.

Currently there are an estimated 260,000 patients with spinal cord injuries and 12,000 new patients per year who could benefit from the developed technology. In addition, there are 6.5 million Americans that have suffered a stroke in their lifetime and are most likely to be living with debilitating effects.

Tablet computer devices can provide paralyzed patients with easier access to computer technology and the internet. To make it easier, mouth stick styli have been developed for patients to more easily interact with iPads and other tablet computers.

However, various problems exist with these sticks including the ability of the patient to adjust to changes in distance from the tablet device to the mouth. Now the VA has developed a stylus where the length can be adjusted to help quadriplegic patients effectively use tablet devices.

The technology for the stylus uses a small DC motor coupled to a linear actuator. By applying pressure to either the left or right side of the mouthpiece, the jaw can be used to control the shaft extensions. For example, lengthening is achieved by applying higher pressure to the left side of the mouthpiece.

The VA is looking for a partner for further development and commercialization of this technology through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. For more information, contact Lee Sylvers PhD in the Technology Transfer Program within the VA’s Office of Research & Development by email at or call (202) 443-5646.


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