Mouthsticks: More Than Just for Typing

This article contains a video
a woman smiling
Curated by
Kristen Sachs
Content via Joel Vander Molen
Joel Vander Molen
Curated by
Kristen Sachs

Joel has been a C2/C3 quadriplegic since he was 3 years old, and he’s become very adept at using a mouthstick to accomplish many tasks throughout his life.

“A mouthstick makes things a little bit easier and allows me to operate the world around me.”

Joel has put together a video to show the many uses for a traditional mouthstick. First he demonstrates how he uses the stick to type at 1:50. But a mouthsitck isn’t used for just typing. Joel also demonstrates how he uses the stick to ring a bell and push a button on a remote doorbell for when he needs assistance.

At 4:15 Joel uses his mouthstick to play cards. “They’re lightweight and easy to move around,” he says, so they’re a good way to practice honing your stick skills. “One thing you’ll use a lot is the edge of a table,” says Joel. You can use the edge to flip objects over, which Joe does easily at 4:40. A little later, at 7:00 Joel shows how he plays a game of solitaire.

quadriplegic man uses a mouthstick to play a board game

At 11:00, Joel demonstrates his skills at playing the game Othello. He flips the round pieces by applying gentle pressure on the edge of a piece with his stick. He also uses the stick to reposition the game board when necessary.

Then at 13:00, Joel shares a secret for controlling light switches with the mouthstick. “Rocker switches are easier,” he says, “but I don’t have that option.” Instead, Joel has toggle light switches. First, he flips the switch off by pushing it down. But pushing it up is a bit trickier. So Joel puts the tip of his mouthstick just above the toggle and pushes. This lifts the toggle slightly so he can then easily flip it upward.

Lastly, near the end of the video, Joel demonstrates how he works a jigsaw puzzle, and how he flips the pages of magazines and books – all with his mouthstick.

Check out the video below to see Joel’s skills in action.

Do you use a mouthstick to operate the world around you? Send us a video showing how you do it!

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