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Category: Brain Injury

Easel Switch

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--- "DO IT YOURSELF" ENTRY ------- A switch mounted to the front surface of a Triwall easel and covered by a square plate of expanded PVC material to enlarge the switch surface.

PURPOSE: 1. To position a switch so that shoulder flexion and elbow extension are encouraged. 2. To enable a student to operate a computer, battery-operated toy or battery-operated appliance using shoulder flexion and elbow extension. These movements are often desirable for those who exhibit the opposite motor pattern (i.e. flexor motor pattern) due to a neurological disorder.

MATERIALS USED: Triwall material, 2 feet x 4 feet sheet, one 1/4-inch thick wooden dowel, Woodworker’s glue, Expanded PVC material, 6-inch x 6-inch square, speaker wire (long enough to reach from the easel switch to the computer or appliance), Pressure-sensitive Velcro hook and loop tape, Switch such as a GC Snap Action (Momentary) Switch, part number 35-834, Single Pole, Double Throw, 5 AMPs, 250 Volts AC (This switch can be purchased from an electronics store. Many other types of switches can be used.), 1/4-inch plug (male phone jack), two beads-approximately ½-inch in diameter, string or ribbon, about 12-inches long, cloth tape or electrical tape, Optional: Latex Enamel-to paint the Triwall

TOOLS: Bandsaw, jigsaw, utility knife or steak knife; pencil sharpener, soldering iron; carpenter’s heavy-duty glue gun and glue sticks. (If not available, woodworker’s glue may be substituted.)

MEASUREMENTS: The Triwal easel is about 12-inche wide by 9-inches tall. These measurements can be easily altered to suit the needs of the student and situation.

1. Cut out 3 rectangles of identical dimensions, such as 12-inch x 9-inch. Cut out a notch in one of the sides of one of the rectangles (the wire will fit through this). The notched retangle should form the back piece of the “tent shape” when assembled.
2. Attach the rectangles together to form the tent. Angle the raw edges first so the contact edges are flush together.
3. Trace the end of the assembled “tent” twice on the remaining piece of Triwall. Cut these two triangles out. These will cover the ends of the “tent”.
4. If desired (for added stability), use hot glue to glue the “tent shape” onto a larger (e.g. 9-inch x 18-inch) Triwall base.
5. Cover all corners and edges of the Triwall with duct tape or masking tape and then of the ends to a switch and the other two ends to the jack.
6. Cut a hole in the center of the front surface of the Triwall easel just big enough to fit the switch through. Tape the switch in the hole using cloth tape or electrical tape so only the buttons juts out beyond the front surface of the Triwall.
7. To attach the 6-inch square of PVC over the switch to serve as the switch plate, punch two holes in the easel and two holes in the top of the PVC. Thread each end of a string or ribbon first through the PVC, then through a small bead, and finally through the Triwall. Tie the two ends of the string together inside the easel. It is essential that a small bead be placed between the PVC and the Triwall so that the switch is not activated accidentally due to pressure from the PVC.
8. Use pressure-sensitive Velcro to attach the triangular ends to the easel.

Author: Designed and fabricated by Subhashini Balagopal, M.Ed., Preschool/Primary Cluster Coordinator, Franciscan Children’s Hospital, Brighton, MA


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