Tongue piercing allows patients paralyzed from the neck down to control their wheelchairs

An experimental device is letting paralyzed people drive wheelchairs simply by flicking their tongue in the right direction. Users have their tongue pierced with a magnetic stud that resembles jewelry and acts like a joystick, in the hope that it will offer them more mobility and independence.

Getting around in a wheelchair is difficult enough, even when one still has use of their upper extremities. Quadriplegics face an exponentially more difficult challenge: controlling the wheelchair by sucking or blowing air through a straw. But this new powered wheelchair from the Georgia Institute of Technology will respond to a flick of the user’s tongue.

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