This client has difficulty pressing the small buttons on a recliner chair control box, and too easily knocks it off the chair arm (where it has been placed by a carer) when trying to use it when the carer is not immediately available. The client has sometimes tried to stand up in the chair whilst it is reclined which is dangerous and is damaging the chair.
The idea of somehow attaching the control box to the arm of the chair had already been discounted because the client is not able to accurately press one or other of the buttons. It was proposed that the control box could be fitted into a mechanism where the movement of the two buttons would be exaggerated and isolated by two levers and actuator paddles. This was drawn up in a 3D design tool and a drawing sent to the OT for consideration. The OT thought that it would be worth making this into a real device and trying it out, only doing this would confirm if it would be useful to the client.
The recliner chair has a pocket on the side and an MDF board was fitted into this and held to the chair with a strap. A wooden enclosure holds the control box and two levers are fitted that allow large movements of two paddles to press on the control box’s buttons. The first version was shown to the client’s carer and some small changes were suggested, including painting the paddles red and green. The device was completed and then installed on a third visit, planned so the OT could attend as well.
During this visit the client’s carer and the OT worked with him for a little while to see if he could manage to control the chair, he did manage to make it work although some more practice was going to be necessary. The device was left with the client and a follow-up meeting arranged. Unfortunately, before this could take place, the OT contacted me to explain that the chair had become damaged beyond repair and so the device was redundant. When a new chair has been procured we can revisit and see what might be needed to reinstate it.
An improved design has been considered in the meantime where a single paddle is used to press the buttons. This will require a more complex mechanism that changes the direction of the lever’s movement by 90 degrees but should be simpler for the client to use.
Ian Mercer, REMAP South Herts Panel