Alternative wheelchair drive controls

nona

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I started using my Permobil wheelchair in May 2018. In June 2019 I graduated from the traditional joystick to head controls. I have struggled with neck pain ever since, partly from progression and partly from the lack of support and intense use of my neck muscles to operate the chair. I am working with a DME to find another option that would allow me to continue to use the wheelchair on my own, including adjusting my seat and legs. It appears that the options are chin control or a series of switches placed where I have a little muscle control, which would be around my legs or feet. We have tried to contact the company that created the Independence Drive, which uses eyegaze technology, but they haven't responded. We have also heard that the program doesn't provide for seating adjustments.

Has anyone had experience with these or other alternative power wheelchair drive controls?
 

MToole

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I tried a chin control for a few minutes a while back. It did not work for me. The harness was strange, heavy and it was tough to control. It also made my neck feel weaker and fatigued easy.
I am a aware of people using their legs or feet with switches to control their wheelchair.
I switched from head control from a head array at the end of August.
I now use a sip n puff controller.
It works great for me.
Eyegaze technology keeps improving.
 

Jimi

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I have seen the website for the independence drive for control by eyegaze. It was out of my price range. I don't have the resources to get out much anyway. I got rid of the power chair when I could no longer use it and got a tilt in space manual chair that is easier for the caregiver to manage for the rare occasion that I need to go out. For home, have you ever thought about automation for a power recliner? I pretty much live in mine and with the modifications I control it from my computer, phone or voice. A couple years ago I was in contact with the makers of the "eyedrivomatic". It's a more affordable way to use eyegaze and some servos attached to the joystick to control the power wheelchair. It didn't appear to get far due to funds and possibly because of the liability involved with such a thing. I was thinking of making one for myself. But I am not a computer programmer and with my progression it just didn't seem realistic for me to pursue. Maybe you could find out more. A quick look at the eyedrivomatic org website and it doesn't look like they have changed much
 

Fusia

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I don't know if they could help, but perhaps you could contact the Gleason Foundation tech folks to see if they have some thoughts on it?
 

lgelb

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The more switches you could use, the easier it is to adjust the seat as well as drive. If you still have reliable movement in a few muscles, and the tongue might be one, it's worth a try. Remember also that switches can be operated via iOS devices if you can still use those, perhaps mounted midline.

The Gleason Foundation helped develop the Independence Drive but as far as I know seat adjustment is not an option as you say, and only distributors get kits, not every DME. What DME do you use?

Switch scanning and sip 'n' puff may be other options, depending on your patience and capabilities. Chin control setups have improved as well. Postural support is also key with these if you need it (like chest, shoulders) so you're not hurting your neck or any other body part.

Check out Web sites like Active Controls, Switch-It and Magitek.
 
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Nick1439

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I'm working on getting the independence drive, definitely contact team Gleason. The company that offers the system got restructured and then covid happened, so it's been a process.
 

nona

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Thank you all for your replies. @lgelb , I'm working with Herron and Smith here in NH. They are understaffed, and under trained. @Jimi , I didn't fit very well in my recliner. I'm petite and the wheelchair is more comfortable for me. Plus, peeing.

@lgelb , speaking of positioning, how does one get properly situated in the chair when they can't self adjust? I can't push myself back as easily anymore.
 

Nick1439

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I use the tilt function on my chair to lay back, that puts my weight on the chair, my caregiver holds my feet, I push up. if you can't push, lean back, and have your caregiver pull you up.
 

jonico

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Hi Nona, I'm sorry you are experiencing such neck pain as you continue to work diligently toward maintaining your independence, while simultaneously striving to continue to operate your wheelchair on your own. You've received some helpful advice here so far, and I hope you will receive even more!

I wish I had advice, but we went pretty much directly from my wife being able to control the chair herself to me handling it for her. There were intermediate step options, but they just weren't tenable for us for a variety of reasons.

I just want you to know I'm thinking of you tonight...hoping you find a solution to help mitigate the neck pain (short term), but at the same time (and longer term), afford you the opportunity to maintain your independence! All the best...Jon
 

GillG

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Hello everyone. I have chin control on my chair. You can have it set up with a mount rather than the neck harness. It is just an arm that attaches to the headrest. I also have the Independence Drive. It does only control the drive portion of the chair. So I use it in conjunction with chin control.
 

nona

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Thanks @GillG , do you like the Independence Drive? Who installed it for you?? So do you only use the chin control for chair adjustments?
 

GillG

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I actually alternate between the two. I like the Independence Drive because it is so much easier physically. However , as with all eye gaze , there is still the issue of use in sun. If they ever solve that problem , it would be great.
 

Trixie80

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put a towel on the seat and once you are seated have someone pull it back
 
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