Our client suffered from a lack of spinal mobility and has shortened upper arms, so he has difficulty putting a coat on and is unable to get dressed to go out by himself. Some ‘gadget’ was requested to help with this problem
Because of his spinal condition, the client is not very stable on his feet and uses a walking frame to move around in the home, which means that any ‘gadget’ requiring him to put his arms behind his back was not going to work. He has also tried standard dressing aids / dressing sticks but these have not been found useful for him. A potential semi-commercial solution was identified which involved hanging the coat from a pivoting frame hung from a door lintel, but this required him to walk backwards into the coat, which he is unable to do.
Eventually it was found that by hanging the coat over his walking frame with the arms hung over the sides of the frame and the arm holes open at the top, he could stand ‘backwards’ in the frame and put the coat on, provided somebody lifted the coat up his back by the collar or hood. It was therefore decided to devise a device which would replicate this action.
BASIC CONCEPT AND DESIGN: The ‘coat lift’ is based around a wooden frame with the same dimensions as the client’s walking frame. At the rear of the frame is a tower fitted with a clamp for the coat collar at the top, which is powered to rise vertically from waist height to just above shoulder height. The frame is attached to a carpeted platform so that it is stable when the client stands on the platform.
The rising part of the tower runs on a pair of cabinet slides on the fixed part, and is powered by a 12 volt DC powered rack, fitted with limit switches at either end of its movement. The collar clamp comprises two jaws, the lower jaw fixed to the top of the rising part of the tower, and the other moving, top jaw pivoted to it. The point of action of the rack is behind the pivot line of the collar clamp, so that as the tower rises, and the load increases on the coat collar, the clamp is pulled tighter shut.
At the lowest position of the tower, the moving part of the tower comes up against a stop just before the rack movement reaches its limit. This causes the clamp to be forced open, ready to have the coat collar inserted.
A stop rod is fitted to the upper clamp jaw with its point of action behind that of the rack. This rod rises with the tower until just before the upper limit of the rack movement, when a block on the bottom of the rod contacts a fixed part of the tower. As the rack continues to move upwards the clamp is forced fully open, releasing the coat.
At any intermediate point between top and bottom position, if the rack is not powered then the clamp is held shut only by the weight of the lifting part of the tower, so in an emergency (such as a power failure) the coat collar can be pulled from the clamp jaws.
The frame is provided with 2 wheels at the back on extension arms, mounted just clear of the floor. The assembly is thereby stable in use but can be moved easily by lifting the front until the wheels at the back touch the floor, and wheeling it about.
OPERATION: The client places his coat on the arms of the frame, inside uppermost, with the coat arms hanging down outside the frame and the arm holes upwards and open. The coat collar is placed between the open jaws of the lift
The ‘up’ button is pressed briefly to close the clamp jaws, then the client stands in the frame with his back to the lifting tower, and puts his hands (one of which holds the remote control) in the tops of the sleeves. When ready, he presses and holds the ‘up’ button and the lifting part pulls the coat collar up his back to just above shoulder height, at the same time dragging the coat sleeves on to his arms (figure 2b). When fully raised the jaws open and release the coat collar, and the client can then complete the operation by ‘shrugging’ the coat fully on to his shoulders.
CONTROL SYSTEM: The 12 volt rack motor is controlled by a pair of 4 pole 2 way power relays, wired such that operation of one relay prevents operation of the other, to prevent short circuits. As the client has his hands inside the coat sleeves when operating the device, these relays are controlled by means of a commercial radio remote control, of the type commonly used for remote operation of garage doors, gates, etc. As the lift can be lowered at any convenient time between operations, an additional ‘down’ button is provided on the radio receiver casing
Power comes from a commercial 12 volt 10 amp (nominal) computer type power supply, fitted with a 15amp automotive type fuse.
Our client felt that being able to put on his outdoor coat without assistance had ‘changed his life’. He can now go out shopping or to walk his dog rather than being confined to the house