Mainstream media explodes with wheelchair stories


When I was playing post-Thanksgiving catch-up earlier this week, I couldn’t help but notice that at least 3/4 of the headlines mentioning wheelchairs were all about one topic: a way to drive a wheelchair with a tongue piercing

Now, we’re all familiar with the sip-n-puff, where the wheelchair user breathes air in or out of the device to move his or her wheelchair around. 

This new invention out of Georgia Tech involves getting a metal barbell tongue piercing to lean left or right to control a wheelchair—or even a digital device. 

No doubt about it, this thing is cool. They’re even saying this will be on the market in 2015 (wonder if Medicare will cover it?).

But still, there is a lot of cool HME. Why did this idea take mainstream media—even news outlets in other countries—by storm?

Could it be the chance to use a graphic with a tongue piercing? Could it be celebrating an American invention around one of America’s favorite holidays? Could it be that human-interest stories like this are easy to pick up for story quotas as a lot of reporters take the holiday and days surrounding it off? 

Hard to say. I know that our community will be happy to hear about something that will make a wheelchair user’s life easier no matter what time of year it is. And if it comes with a cool graphic, all the better.