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Reclaiming independence: Spinal injuries and eye tracking technology

Eye tracking software is promising to revolutionise everyday computer interaction in the future. The software enables assistive technology that allows computers to know exactly where users are looking. Funding, research and development in eye tracking technology has seen a sharp rise in the last few years and it has recently become much more accurate and easy to use.

With eye tracking technology, the user can control the mouse curser with eye movement and right-click by pausing or blinking.  Unsurprisingly, one of the most valuable applications for eye tracking and gaze interaction technology is to assist those suffering with spinal injuries. 

Eye tracking technology for people with spinal injuries

The ability to use a computer, browse the internet and even post on social networking sites is something many of us take for granted, but for those with spinal injuries even these seemingly simple tasks will usually require assistance.

The freedom to use a computer without help from others can give an important sense of personal independence.  Coming to terms with a spinal injury is usually a lonely and difficult time, with feelings of isolation, depression and frustration accompanying the unavoidable dependence on others.  Assistive technology through eye tracking and gaze interaction can allow those dealing with a spinal injury to bring some control back into their life. 

The benefits of personal computing to users with spinal injuries

Access to a computer can improve quality of life of those with spinal injuries dramatically.  Not only does it potentially allow users to get back to work, but it also allows them to keep up to date with family and friends and communicate socially through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

Other recreational and artistic activities can also be carried out by those with spinal injuries using eye tracking technology, like painting, creative writing, composing music and playing games.

The costs of eye tracking technology

Unfortunately, assistive eye tracking technology does not come cheap and for those waiting for financial compensation in relation to their spinal injury, access to eye tracking technology may seem a long way off. 

Personal injury claims for spinal injuries do take time and there is often a substantial delay between the injury itself and the receipt of compensation.  But, where the other side has admitted liability it is possible to apply for an “interim payment” to cover the cost of installing assistive technology like this.  An interim payment can be applied for at any time to cover immediate needs, even before a settlement amount is reached.  

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