The Tongue-Powered Test Drive
How an inspired Georgia Tech engineer is trying to transform the lives of people with severe disabilities, one tongue piercing at a time.
Photo courtesy Maysam Ghovanloo
A diving accident in April 2009 left Jason DiSanto a C4 quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. The injury resulted in a lot of pain, and when that pain was coupled with the reality of being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, DiSanto admits he was at first “overwhelmed with my situation.”
Yet only a few months after suffering his injury, DiSanto, an electrical engineer by degree and profession, was learning to operate his wheelchair by way of a sip-n-puff system when he spoke to a Georgia Tech student about a new technology that was in the early stages of clinical trials. The student told DiSanto that the system could allow him much more freedom than the tried-and-true sip-n-puff. It would remove the bulky apparatus and replace it with a small piece of titanium. That piece of titanium, in the form of a tiny barbell, would be pierced through DiSanto’s tongue.
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