Determining the Best Switch Type and Location For Clients With Muscle Weakness

When conducting assessments the starting place is to determine what areas of movement the client displays. Once those are determined there are additional factors to consider; which are the muscle strength, the amount of force presented, and the client’s endurance level. Another consideration is ensuring the proper supports to limit weakness and fatigue which can affect accuracy and speed. The client also needs to be able to consistently release the switch and not utilize it for stabilization.

Switches are broken into two main categories mechanical or electrical. Where electrical requires little to no pressure and little travel while mechanical requires more pressure and travel. Switches such as the spec, jellybean and light touch plates fall under the mechanical category.  There are five sub-categories of electrical switches; proximity, fiberoptic, infrared, sensor, and piezo electric film. Proximity switches like the candy corn tend to be more effective when using the hand to activate. Fiberoptic switches work well for smaller finger movements since they are often smaller than a pencil eraser. Infrareds are switches such as eye blink, while sensors pick up muscle movement and Piezo electrical film activate with vibrations. Typically switches for the feet require too much movement. Knees are also difficult with medial knee movement being a little easier.

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