Everyday Gear Shows and Expos Travel Wheelchairs

Remote Control Wheelchair Docking

You Can Take It With You

Coolest not-yet-existing product at the WCD Expo? The ATRS system — essentially a conversion van which uses remote control to return your wheel chair to its docking point inside your van. ‘ATRS’ stands for ‘Automated Tranport and Retrieval System.’

The system is expected to include Freedom Lift’s Freedom Seat, the Tracker with Dock ‘n’ Lock with the ATRS. The Freedom Seat lifts, rotates, and lowers outside a vehicle next to a wheelchair for a side-to-side transfer, and re-entry into the vehicle. The Tracker is a wheelchair lift with a locking/docking component (Dock ‘n’ Lock).

atrs system mapThese two items (three, if you count the Dock ‘n’Lock as separate) are available now, but the cool part is the ATRS — the software and hardware that Freedom Sciences has developed to use the Freedom Seat and the Tracker as parts of a remote control system. This system will allow you to roll up in your chair, transfer to the Freedom Seat and remotely send your wheelchair from the front vehicle door to the Tracker, load it onto the Tracker, dock it, slide it into the vehicle and stow it — all while you’re sitting in your van (mini or otherwise).

That’s cool enough, but the kicker is that the Freedom Seat and Tracker don’t require any drilling for installation — they install in the existing manufacturer slots for the OEM seats. Yes, you can take it with you . . . this conversion can follow you from van to van, reducing the cost of conversion considerably over time.

At the moment, cost of the system and van is estimated at more or less the cost of a full conversion van, so (and assuming this is still true when it becomes available) the initial cost won’t be any saving, but should add up as vans get replaced.

It won’t be for everyone, but for those who can use it, this system, with its fabulous robotic component, could offer unparalled freedom for many, along with the opportunity to ride and drive in a fully-tested safer automotive seat. Launch is set for spring 2007.

I have high hopes for this baby. In defiance of all previous known manufacturer/developer practices, the engineers are actually using the system themselves — in a (gasp!) wheelchair, just as if they expected it to work the way they’re designing it. Way-to-go guys!

Everyday Gear Home Modifications

Adventures With Portable Wheelchair Ramps, Part 3

In Part 1 of this series of articles, I discussed the ramps needed so that my dad could have access to the house. In Part 2, I looked at the basic technical requirements for the necessary ramps.

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Good Stuff Home Modifications Nursing Home

No-Slip Grips for Phones, Remote Controls

egrips appliques are hard to beat for making objects easier to grasp. Adding these rubberized adhesive strips to phones, remote controls and even nail clippers makes them less slippery without creating any additional bulk.

The IT crowd — at least those who aren’t cavalier about their equipment — use the same strips on PDAs and phones to avoid those potentially disasterous fumbles.

egrips Available in all sorts of shapes and colors to customize just about everything. University of Texas fans can plaster their very own UT steer anywhere they like. Get them online, or at larger computer stores.

See also: Lever Door Handles

Everyday Gear Gifts Good Stuff Home Modifications

Super Large Analog Date/Time Clock

Big Clock Some days it’s a good to have basic data first thing in the morning and on demand all day long. This expensive clock from The Alzheimer’s Store has large clear numerals and text showing the month, day, date and time in high contrast.

Unlike an LED clock face, it’s readable from any direction; my dad can see his even at night from the ambient light in his room. At 12 inches by 15 inches, it’s large enough to see from across the room, too.

The clock works are mechanical, and the cost apparently has to do with the durabiliy of the flipping mechanism (each numeral/word is on a separate tab which is turned by a little motor). Setting the features is simple; the clock runs on one AA battery, theoretically for two years.

It’s worth every penny; my dad refers to it regularly and has often mentioned how helpful it is.

Everyday Gear Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Adventures With Portable Wheelchair Ramps, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on Portable Ramps, I discussed the basic set-up around our house. This article will cover how I determined what sort of ramp setup we needed — Steps 1 through 4 on this mission.

Everyday Gear Good Stuff Kids Travel Wheelchairs

Wheelchair Cupholder — Drink Up!

Valco Baby has the sturdiest and most practical cupholder I’ve found for any kind of self-propelled vehicle (think stroller, walker, wheelchair).

Valco Baby Cupholder

Attaching it isn’t the most intuitive process around, but once on board, it rotates to any angle, and is absolutely secure. It’s worked great on my dad’s wheelchair, and I’ve used it happily on several strollers as well.

Everyday Gear Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Adventures With Portable Wheelchair Ramps, Part 1

I’ve just worked through the process of researching and buying portable wheelchair ramps for the house, so that we can get my dad into and out of it easily when he visits. We want him to be here with as little fuss and stress as possible.

cement ramp

At Home Everyday Gear Good Stuff Kids Shows and Expos

Silverware for Hands With Grasp Impairments — Dining With Dignity

Dignity UtensilsI was happy to see Bob and Debbie Bayton at the WCD Expo, and to get another chance to look at Bob’s clever invention. Bob has taken ordinary tableware and adapted it for use by people with various grasp impairments. Two flexible metal loops attached to the flatware handles give diners the leverage and grasp needed to eat without being fed — and using flatware similar to ordinary nice tableware. Individual adjustments are easy to make, and the flatware now comes in smaller sizes, too, for children or small adults. See it all at Dining with Dignity.

Clothing DIY Everyday Gear Kids

Locking Shoe Laces

Lock LacesThese interesting items make up a Lock Laces kit. The idea is that you thread the elastic laces through your shoe eyelets, push the ends through the cord locks, and then through the cord caps. Voila! No more tying and untying shoelaces — just open and shut the cordlocks by squeezing.

Everyday Gear Gifts Good Stuff Nursing Home

Alzheimer’s Doll — We All Need Someone to Love

People with middle-to-late-Alzheimer’s (and sometimes just plain humans) often respond well to the emotions a baby doll evokes. Lee Middleton, a well-known ‘collector’ doll designer, offers a doll she calls “Someone to Care For” which she designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s. The doll’s face and limbs are extremely realistic, and he/she can even suck a tiny thumb. It’s available in light and dark skin tones, and various hair and eye colors.

Someone to Care For Doll