What I use to control my computer with no hands?

After my 4 months stay in the hospital (which, by the way, had no WiFi), my mind was already taking on stock on how I can get back into my computer without the use of my hands. I had a bunch of really wild ideas that required some homespun ingenuity. One idea came from when I was a puppeteers. Marionettes (string puppets) were my specialty. I conceptualized stringing my hand over a touch-pad tablet. Control strings attached to my head would manipulate my hand. But in the long run, I threw it out. The rig would have been cumbersome and too elaborate. Oh, my mind raced away with even crazier ideas.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel. With technology today, well minded engineers have considered the plights of quadriplegics and have already come up with incredible solutions. Many of them required extra hardware and was a little expensive. Now, at that time, I didn’t want to be a continuous burden to my family and friends. So, I kept looking. (Oh, by the way, my caregiver was the one typing for me at that time.) Anyway, again, by God’s grace, there were some FREE options that were put together by conscientious people. I discovered the CAMERA MOUSE.

The Camera Mouse was developed by the graduate students of Boston University to aid quadriplegics. It required no specialized hardware except what you should already have, a computer and a webcam. It is software, that is, a program that first utilizes your webcam to identify and track a spot on your face. Then, it will actively execute mouse functions, so that when you move face left/right or up/down, the curser arrow will follow. It also has a function to automatically execute the ‘clicking’ every 3-5 seconds. It is an optional convenience for those who are totally paralyzed, but I still had some miniscule control in my hands, in this case, my left thumb. So, I have managed to strap an old mouse on my hand where my thumb can press down on the mouse button [see image].

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AQ-ARCTIC-workarea-w.jpgNow, this gave me greater control on my computer, so that I am able to work on computer graphic projects again. If you send me a high resolution picture of yourself, I can photoshop you into another background [see image]. By the way, I am still available for projects (hint, hint). The camera mouse, together with an onscreen keyboard, actually made it possible for me to complete my first ebook which can be purchased in Amazon (again, hint hint).

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Anyway, Camera Mouse is available for everyone for FREE (link below).

Again, I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragements.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Camera Mouse
http://www.cameramouse.org/

The Centurion’s Gospel [Kindle Ebook] only $1.99

How can independent mobility be good for mental health?

Imagine this scenario – You were going through a park and meeting a man who recently suffered a stroke. He was being pushed around on a wheelchair by a hired caregiver. In that first meeting, his demeanor was light and friendly. Some months later, you ran into the same man. He was sitting by himself in his wheelchair under a tree. His caregiver was talking to someone else about 40 feet away. At first, you thought he was a different person, but then you recognized him as the same guy. Unfortunately, his appearance was of someone whose demeanor was totally opposite from when you first met him. He was slouching to one side with his head drooping. His face was sullen, skin blotchy, drawn in close to the bone and deep bags under the eyes. Then, there are the eyes that can only be described as sad… unhappy… bereaved of joy.

Of course, that is just a scenario. However, I have seen these eyes many many times. I have seen it in the eyes of the poor who gave up hope. I have seen it in the eyes of the abandoned paralyzed patients of an undermanned charity hospital waiting just to die. I have seen this in the eyes of our senior citizens doomed to waste away knowing they have lost control of their most basic independence… mobility under their own control.

28945002_10155927344076351_1194703167_o.jpgAt first, I could not understand how frustrating it can be to be totally dependent on someone to push me around in a wheelchair. Until I found myself in similar situation. Now, I am usually a good-natured guy but lately whenever my caregiver take me out, I always end up being a tiny tyrant of a ‘backseat-driver’. I’m constantly telling my caregiver to go here, to angle there, to suddenly stop and back up because I just spotted something. One thing I hate the most, is whenever something neat is happening I am facing the wrong way and the caregiver is always late to respond. It has gotten to a point where I enjoy staying in bed more where at least I have some control of my computer. (Of course, that is for another story.) In the long run, I really hate being ‘pushed around’, so to speak. Who does?

Depression and self-pity are things quadriplegics have to face and battle with everyday. But by God’s grace, technology has come a long way to provide us ways to improve the quality of life. In Youtube, I have viewed other quadries like myself living happilly and with renewed vigor on their hi-tech wheelchairs. I have a choice. I either wallow in self-pity and eventually succomb to depression. Or I use my God-given gift and do my very best to improve my current state of things. The draw-back is the very high prices of the equipment needed.

My challenge is to raise the funding so that I too can become useful and productive not just for myself but for others. So, I again plea for help to raise the money so that I can be independently mobile. Thank you.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

Becoming Paralyzed [Part 6 – Final]

Here is my accounting, so far. It has been 4 months in the hospital with almost 3 years of physical therapy (6 days out of the week) at home. I am still mostly stuck in bed depending on someone to do everything for me. My friend and Pastor, Steve, was paralyzed the neck down from a traumatic motorcycle accident. He was absent from us for about two years when miraculously we begin to receive video clippings of his progress. It started with him moving arms, then him being able to balance himself sitting, and finally, of him taking that precarious first step. Today, Steve is very active and one of the most animated Pastors of our church. So, I guess the most obvious question is why am I still paralyzed and did not progress like Steve?

For Steve, he grew up with normal muscle tones. So, when he recovered from his spinal cord damage, he still had good muscles to regain more strenght. My situation, like many who were affected by polio from the 1930s to the 60s, our aging muscles tend to go downhill faster than normal muscles. So, what little muscles I have left may or may not lead me back on my feet. You would think that exercise would help me become stronger. That is a yes and no answer.

Normal muscles when exercised gain strenght because there is balance how they grow when exercised. Unfortunately, depending on the severity on how the polio disease affected the body, the balance in muscle tone is a factor. The greater the severity, the greater the imbalance. My best friend is a polio victim of the 50s like me who had just suffered a mild stroke. Polio had left him to be dependent on crutches. I’m afraid after the stroke, no physical therapy treatment will allow him to ever use crutches again. I pray he can gain hand control back so he can drive his electric wheelchair.

My reality is that one leg is stronger than the other. I grew up depending mostly on my good leg. Post polio weakened my strong leg but the compression sped both legs deterioration somewhat that I could not carry my own weight. Then, there are my arms which unfortunately never had any real muscles. With the compression, I couldn’t even hold a pen in my right hand nor hold a ball with my left.

I used to joke that exercise was against my religion. Well, in some ways, exercise will probably not give me my legs back nor even my hands. But I do have a strong neck and a determined brain to be not such a useless burden to others.

Lord willing, I will continue in His service using all that is left to me.

Johann Q

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Ebook in Amazon

CG-book-cover-wCornelius Metellus is a Roman Centurion who is a veteran of the conflicts in Spain. He had been in countless battles and the experience had caused him to search for deeper meaning in life. That search will lead him to arrive in First Century Palestine with several cohorts of legionaries under the command of Governor Pontus Pilate. He is given a special assignment to establish a spy network to gather intelligence on the insurgent activity in the region. Eventually, he will investige Jesus of Nazareth as a possible insurgent against Roman rule. As he closely follow this wandering rabbi and miracle worker, he is led down a spiritual path of Discovery and Faith.