A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Often buttons are also built into the base panel that perform a variety of functions similar to those one may find on a computer mouse. Joysticks, when used in an assistive technology capacity, are meant to replicate the functions of a computer mouse, controlling the pointer on a computer screen. Joysticks are easier for some individuals to grip than a traditional mouse, and can also be programmed to be more or less sensitive depending on the muscle strength and dexterity of the individual. For example, someone with limited mobility may set the joystick to be very sensitive so that even small movements can be detected, on the other hand, someone with less control over directed movement may set their joystick to be less sensitive to avoid the effects of unintentional movements.
There have been many research projects that speak to the efficacy and mechanics of joysticks in wheeled mobility (Fattouh, Sahnoun & Bourhis, 2004), medical training (Shane, Pettitt, Morgenthal & Smith, 2008) and gaming (Limperos, Schmierbach, Kegerise & Dardis, 2011), however we could not find any research on joysticks as an assistive technology.
Research Rating: There is some research on the topic of joysticks, but all of this research has been completed on typically developing individuals, therefore joysticks have not been confirmed in the populations who require them as assistive technology
Easier to grip than traditional mouse, for some
Amount of force required can be adjusted to suit the capabilities of the individual
There are no disadvantages for individuals with motor impairments present in the research literature
Contact an Occupational Therapist or other specialist to determine which system and what settings are the most appropriate for each individual user.
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Assetto, A., & Dowden, E. (1988). Getting a Grip on Interfacing. The Science Teacher, 55(6), 65-67. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/stable/24141072
Fattouh, A., Sahnoun, M., & Bourhis, G. (2004, October). Force feedback joystick control of a powered wheelchair: Preliminary study. In Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 2004 IEEE International Conference on (Vol. 3, pp. 2640-2645). IEEE.
Limperos, A. M., Schmierbach, M. G., Kegerise, A. D., & Dardis, F. E. (2011). Gaming across different consoles: exploring the influence of control scheme on game-player enjoyment. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(6), 345-350.
Shane, M. D., Pettitt, B. J., Morgenthal, C. B., & Smith, C. D. (2008). Should surgical novices trade their retractors for joysticks? Videogame experience decreases the time needed to acquire surgical skills. Surgical endoscopy, 22(5), 1294-1297.
Written by Harrison McNaughtan, Last Revision May 2018