SCI Superstar: Ian Mackay

A spinal cord injury can take many things away, including physical loves that are no longer possible. For Ian Mackay, the great love in his life was bicycling. He was an avid cycler at the time of his injury, but he did not let his passion completely disappear once he became paralyzed. Instead, he found a new way to enjoy the open road, and he’s been helping thousands of others along the way. 

Why He’s Fearless?

With his youthful face, one wouldn’t think Ian Mackay was a few years shy of 40 years old, but growing up in California, and being drawn to bicycling and the outdoors early on surely has helped keep him young-spirited. Once he graduated from high school, he first attended college at Cabrillo College and then the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was studying biology and birds. While bicycling home from classes one day, Ian was in an accident.

The UC Santa Cruz campus is up on a hill and every day I would ride my bike home on the bike path and often go quite fast doing it. On the day I broke my neck, there was some sand in the path on one particular corner. I hit that sand, lost control, and went into a tree. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet, which likely prevented a TBI.”

After his injury, Ian was in shock. He had a C2-3 complete injury. “I was completely ventilator dependent for the first year and I didn’t speak much at all. The valve I needed to use to speak while on the ventilator made me a little uncomfortable and I chose to not use it very often. Though to be completely honest, it’s likely I didn’t speak for other psychological reasons. I was going through such depression and didn’t want to lash out at those who were helping me.”

Fortunately after returning home, Ian was back into a “normal” life around two years after his injury. He was also injured around the advent of the smart phone, which was released in 2008. He credits it for helping him transition into his new life. “The beginning of really living again started with me getting access to a smart phone. Once I had a reliable way to call for help, I began going out on my own and exploring my new home in the Pacific Northwest.” Ian would tool around the Olympic Discovery Trail, which is close to home. “I soon found myself spending hours out there every day. I was able to relive the things I loved. I could meet other cyclists and joggers out on the trail.”

When Ian was a cyclist, he loved long rides. Post-injury while exploring trails, he would push himself daily to see how far he could go. “This was about embracing what I loved before my injury and enjoying it in a new way.” Once he discovered how much joy it could still bring him, he felt motivated to share his love of riding the trails with others with spinal cord injuries, and he did his first “Ian’s Ride” in 2016 when he rode across Washington, driving over 330 miles.

What’s Next?

Ian did another “Ian’s Ride” this past summer. “The main inspiration for my big ride was threefold,” says Ian. “First, long rides in my power wheelchair are kind of my thing.” “Second, I wanted to advocate for more accessible trails in Washington.” “And my final reason was to encourage others, in chairs, to get outside and not take our beautiful natural environment for granted.” During this 2018 ride, a 13-day trek that crossed Washington, Ian brought friends on bicycles in the front and the back of him to make sure he was protected from passing cars. His team also organized a battery switch out to ensure he could go all day and drive the miles needed.

While the cold season is on its way and Ian won’t be doing any more rides until next year (at the earliest), he plans on focusing on his other passion for the next several months – peer support. “There’s a fantastic peer support network in the Pacific Northwest. There are a fair number of high quads in Western Washington and we tend to be quite close and speak on the phone frequently. Having someone to call who has ‘rolled the roll’ and understands the challenges that come with paralysis is invaluable.” We couldn’t agree with Ian more.

– Follow Ian at: IansRide.com

Watch His Videos!

Wheelchair trailblazer

Rolling across Washington state! Meet Ian Mackay

2017 WA Bike Summit Keynote: Ian Mackay

Technology for Quadriplegics C3 or Above

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Welcome to an overview of the most important technology anyone with a high level spinal cord injury should consider. We hope you find the document below useful. If you have any suggestions for this ongoing project, please email us at spinalpedia@gmail.com.

* To move ahead to your desired section, please click on one of the sections below

Sections

1. iPad/Tablet & Phone Control

  • tecla-e
  • Tecla Shield
  • Dragon Naturally-Speaking
  • Open Sesame app
  • LipSync
  • Tobii eye gaze technology
  • Glassouse
  • Switch Control
  • Mouthsticks
  • Bluetooth Headset
  • Phone Mounts

2. School

  • Splashtop
  • iBooks App/Kindle app
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • Automatic Page Turner
  • Portable Voice Amplifier Wireless
  • Wheelchair Permobil UniTrack USB Charger
  • Livescribe 3 Smartpen Black Edition
  • Headset Microphones
  • Desktop Microphones
  • Heavy-Duty Paper Cutter
  • Adjustable Table Cupholders
  • MagConnect Universal Tablet Module Wheelchair Rail Mount

3. Home

  • Amazon Echo
  • Google Home
  • Logitech Harmony
  • Samsung SmartThings
  • Wemo Switch Smart Plug
  • Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini by TP-Link
  • Honeywell Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
  • Philips Hue
  • Open Sesame Automatic Door Opener Kit
  • OBI Eating device
  • KINOVA JACO Assistive Arm

4. Entertainment

  • Fire TV
  • Quadstick
  • IKAN Power Wheelchair Bowler

Chapter 1: iPad/Tablet & Phone Control

tecla-e

tecla-e is the newest version of Tecla. The cloud-connected assistive device provides users with control of their smart devices and environment through wheelchair driving controls and ability switches from manufacturers like AbleNet. It also has a mounting bracket so you can safely affix this to your power wheelchair. Watch it in action

Visit tecla-e

 

Tecla Shield 

The Tecla Shield provides quadriplegic students full access to iPads, iPhones, and Android devices through wireless technology controlled by the same adaptive switches students normally use. These include simple buttons pushed by the head or shoulder, or by blowing into a straw, or blinking. The Tecla Shield also uses Bluetooth to connect to an iPad or other device, allowing students to open and use apps, to fully navigate a device and to type/dictate notes and messages. A wheelchair mount is available.

Visit Tecla Shield

Open Sesame app

With Open Sesame, the freedom and control of using your smartphone is restored. Using the front-facing camera on any Android device, Open Sesame is an app that tracks head movement to unlock touch-free texting, social activity, searching the web and much more all on your smartphone.

Visit Open Sesame

 

LipSync

The Lipsync is a mouth-operated joystick that allows a person to control a computer cursor with minimal head and neck movement. All the electronics are housed in the ‘head’ of the device so there are no additional control boxes, making the LipSync a great candidate for portable, wheelchair-mounted applications.

The mouthpiece is attached to a very precise miniature joystick sensor that requires slight pressure to move a cursor on the screen. Another cool aspect is that you can buy a 3d printed version/kit and build this yourself, or you can buy it already built.

Visit LipSync

 

Tobii eye gaze technology

The Tobii eye gaze system tracks a user’s eye position – to control the mouse pointer. Once the usergets the process down, this way of controlling a device can be quite exact. The system works by shining an infrared light on your pupil and then tracking the light.

Visit Tobii

 

Glassouse

Developed and sold from China, Glassouse is an assistive device that helps people with disabilities do things like control their computer, tablet, mobile phone, or TV, and all through head movements. Some dislike that it must be worn all the time in order to use it, but if you have a busy work day ahead of you, it’s a great product.

Visit Glassouse
Switch Control

Apple devices include an iOS setting called Switch Control that turns touchscreen technology into a device that can be manipulated with basic inputs. Switches are typically used by the student and the touchscreen itself can become a switch as the front-facing camera detects head movements. A fantastic built-in setting, Switch Control is highly adaptable.

There are also countless switches available and almost any will work provided they have a mono jack plug. Here are two examples of switches that are ideal for a quadriplegic, The Micro Light Switch. You can also watch an iOS7 Switch Control overview here

Visit Switch Control
Mouthsticks

For a low-tech solution for using your phone or iPad that doesn’t rely on electricity, a mouthstick is a great option. Since the 1970s, -it -has been the standard piece of adaptive technology that enables quadriplegics to use phones, read book, play games, paint, use touchscreens, and a multitude of other tasks. To purchase a high quality mouthstick, do so at the link below.

Visit Broadened Horizons Lightweight Mouthstick

 

Bluetooth Headsets

Any Bluetooth headset will enable a quadriplegic to answer phones and control voice-activated devices with ease, but the Blue Parrott model has excellent noise cancellation and offers three different wearing styles. It’s a little more expensive than other Bluetooth headsets, but it offers a quality, reliable headset that’s hard to find.

Visit Blue Parrott Bluetooth Headset
Phone Mounts

Another low-tech but highly-successful adaptation that enables a high-level quadriplegic to use a phone solo is a phone mount. -Whether it’s a phone or an iPad, these mounts are available in many stores. We recommend the links below.

– Visit two great phone mounts: Arkon iPhone Gooseneck Mount and Tecla Phone Mount

Chapter 3: School

Splashtop

Splashtop is an app allows students to remotely login to a laptop through an iPad, which eliminates the need to transport their laptop. This makes it possible for high-level quadriplegics to send what they need to from class directly to their home computer without having to worry about adapting a way to bring their laptop to class.

Visit Splashtop
iBooks App/Kindle app

Many quadriplegics have a difficult time handling the pages of a book. Downloading an eBook reader app can provide unlimited access to books. The iBooks app for Apple-users is a highly accessible eBook app recommended by many quadriplegics. For Android users, an eBook app option is the Kindle app. Simply download and click to read. More and more universities as well are offering online books.

Visit iBooks app
Visit the Kindle app

 

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

This software allows a user to type as fast as they can talk and control their computer with their voice.

Visit Dragon Professional
Automatic Page Turner

There are several automatic page turners on the market. The automatic page turner above is one of many that can be controlled by voice. Once set-up, this allows anyone no matter their mobility to read a real book. Make sure to look at maximum pages it can hold when purchasing.

Visit automatic page turners
Portable Voice Amplifier Wireless

This can be used for when speaking to people, asking a question in class or possibly for voice dictation with dragon.

Visit Portable Amplifier
Wheelchair Permobil UniTrack USB Charger

This can be used to charge any electronic device such as a phone, tablet or portable voice amplifier straight from the wheelchair.

Visit Wheelchair Permobil UniTrack USB Charger

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner

This high-speed scanner is perfect for electronically scanning everyday paper files and books.

Visit Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner

Livescribe 3 Smartpen Black Edition

This pen creates a digital and audio copy of anything that is written or spoken. It is perfect for school in order to view notes live, and review notes and audio later. Converts handwritten notes to text.

Visit Livescribe 3 Smartpen Black Edition

 

Options for High Quality Headset Microphones

 

It is important to get a good quality microphone if you’ll be using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. One of these mics is the PRO 8HEx Hypercardioid Dynamic Headworn Microphone, the another headset mic is the Boom O Microphone with PC Cable & iPhone / iPad adapter cable. See both below.

Visit PRO 8HEx Hypercardioid and the Boom O Microphone

 

Desktop Microphones

  

These microphones are perfect because you don’t have to put on any headset and you can sit down at your desk to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking: The Blue Microphones enCORE 100 Studio-Grade Dynamic Performance Mic is an option, as is the Adjustable Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm is a great option.

Visit Blue Microphone

Heavy-Duty Paper Cutter

This device is perfect for cutting the binding off of books which then allows you to scan in the pages electronically with a high-speed scanner.

Visit Heavy-Duty Paper Cutter

 

Adjustable Table Cupholders

 

These three products combined attached to a table or desk and allows the user to drink out of a cup/straw and is perfect because the gooseneck arm can be bent and positioned closer to one’s face. Three products:

Duro-Med Universal Beverage Holder

Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without Stud

Manfrotto 237HD Heavy-Duty Flex Arm

 

MagConnect Universal Tablet Module Wheelchair Rail Mount

Can use this set up to easily attach and attach a tablet to the wheelchair track system. Also this set up can be adjusted to position the tablet in an optimal area.

Visit MagConnect Universal Tablet Module Wheelchair Rail Mount

Chapter 4: Home

Amazon Echo

A ground-breaking voice-activated, internet-connected “smart speaker” with a built-in virtual assistant named Alexa, the Amazon Echo follows your instructions, such as looking up information, telling you the time, playing music, etc. The Echo also controls a multitude of devices in your home and Amazon just released new smart-home devices as well, such as a smart microwave and an Alexa-enabled clock.

Visit Amazon Echo
Google Home

The Google Home device lets you do a myriad of tasks using your voice, all within your home. It can play music, playlists, audiobooks, read out your to-do list, do internet searches, voice calls and many other tasks. It can also control 5,000 different smart home devices.

Visit Google Home
Logitech Harmony

The Logitech Harmony Hub allows you to control nearly any smart device you can imagine. It is compatible with over 270,000 devices, including the tecla-e. It works by turning your smartphone or tablet into a universal remote, thus providing wireless control of your home entertainment and smart home devices whether you are at home (or not).

Visit Logitech Harmony
Samsung SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings is another home hub that communicates with all your smart devices to provide you the ultimate wireless control of your home. One feature that sets SmartThings apart from the competition, especially for tecla-e users, is its battery backup. If the power goes out, or you’re unable to reset your Internet manually, you can continue controlling certain functions for up to 10 hours. And if you’re on the market for a new Smart TV, Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TVs have all built-in SmartThings integration.

Visit SmartThings
Wemo Switch Smart Plug

If you’re looking for something to control the appliances you already own, the Wemo Switch Smart Plug is such a great piece of technology we wish it had the ability to multiply. You can plug the Wemo Switch into an any electrical outlet and then plug any device into it and voilà – you have complete wireless control of your device using the free Wemo app.

Visit Wemo Switch
Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini by TP-Link

The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini by TP-Link is a cool device that pairs with Amazon Alexa and The Google Assistant, letting you control connected devices with simple voice commands. You can give each smart plug its own unique name and combine multiple smart products into a single group for even easier control. From coffee makers to TVs, this Wi-Fi plug gives you tons of options with regards to true hands-free control at home.

Visit the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini
Honeywell Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

Since quadriplegics have irregular temperature regulation due to their spinal cord injury, a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat like the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is a dream solution for anyone quad. And the incredible Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is much like other Wi-Fi enabled thermostats on the market, such as Nest, in that it allows you to control it from your phone, including using voice controls.

Visit Honeywell Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
Philips Hue

Philips Hue is a fantastic add-on to any smart home hub or you can use it directly to control the lighting throughout your home. Philips Hue specially connected bulbs and their bridge allows you to take full control of your lighting. This smart device is a mix of functionality and creativity, with the ability to turn on and off the lights through the app, plus it utilizes the built-in sensor to adjust the dimness and color ambiance of a room.

Visit Philips Hue
Open Sesame

At the touch of a button, the Open Sesame automatic door opener gives complete independence to enter and exit any door. This professional grade system will unlatch a locked door, then open, pause, and close it – all automatically. Note: this device does not lock or unlock your door hardware. The Open Sesame can also be operated by a variety of wheelchair mounted remote controls and other specialty controls.

Visit Open Sesame Automatic Door Opener Kit
OBI Eating device

OBI is an amazing self-feeding device/robot that helps people with upper-body impairments eat on their own. The pace of the arm can be adjusted. Simply have someone put food in the device and you’re set. The robotic arm allows you to even personalize its movements and delivery positions in thousands of different ways.

Visit Obi
KINOVA JACO Assistive Robot

The JACO Assistive robotic arm is designed to do everything a human being’s arm can do – and more. Featuring six-axis movement corresponding to shoulder, elbow and wrist, JACO allows 16 movements in all to mimic the smoothness and versatility of a fully functioning human arm.

It can be mounted on any powerchair, using -its power-source, and it can be controlled using head control, sip-and-puff/head array systems or almost any other interface, in any combination. Made from lightweight carbon fiber, JACO is also durable, light to the touch, weather-resistant and safe to operate.

Visit KINOVA JACO Assistive Robot

Chapter 5: Entertainment

Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box that connects your HDTV to the vast world of online entertainment. It can be controlled via your voice vs. the remote it comes with. With a huge selection of TV episodes and movies, voice search actually works, plus it has exclusive features like ASAP and Amazon FreeTime.It’s an easy way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and more.

Visit Fire TV
Quadstick

Gaming technology for quadriplegics with no arm movement has come a long way in the last few years thanks to the Quadstick. This phenomenal device offers quadriplegics the ability to play high level video games at the same ability as able-bodied players can, thanks to its amazing technology, including sip/puff pressure sensors, a lip position sensor and a mouth-operated joystick.

Their Quadstick FPS is their most sophisticated model and allows players to quickly map between inputs and outputs during the game. For anyone who loved playing video games before their injury, this Quadstick has a solid reputation for returning the ability to game back.

Visit Quadstick
IKAN Power Wheelchair Bowler

Created by a vent-dependent quadriplegic, the IKAN Bowler attaches to the leg rests on a power wheelchair and allows the bowler to control the speed, direction, and timing of the bowling ball’s release. Wheelchair movement and the unique parabolic bowling arm generate the energy to propel the ball down the lane. Braking the wheelchair sends the ball in the direction the bowler wants.

Visit IKAN Power Wheelchair Bowler