Friday, November 30, 2012

A Significant (for me) Wheelchair Mod

Here we are, last day of November 2012. Having gotten over the traumas of the Catalyst program of the last posting and subsequently having our Physician, Dr Terry Cook give us the reality of what Primary Progressive MS actually is and how it is free of any cures, understanding or treatment.  Nevertheless, we’re both glad we asked.

The latest development is Pam’s disability finally impinging on her control of her wheelchair.  She gets into strife at the supermarket, pirouetting in circles without the physical control to stop herself.  These symptoms had been happening on and off for some time and an ACU (Attendant Control Unit) was deemed necessary to be fitted to her chair, which was funded, sourced and eventually installed just this week. It looks like this and is mounted behind the right rear of the seat. (You can make out the right arm rest):

The joystick is obvious, the switch next to it passes control between either of the two controllers and on the left of the box is a rotary chair speed controller - fully anticlockwise is slowest - clockwise is flat out! However, this knob does not effect the turning speed or turning acceleration. These are set with the software to which I am not privy.

When Country Care, the company that fitted it, originally brought the chair back here with the ACU fitted, it behaved very poorly – very violently getting out of control when operated from the new unit.  Country Care knew what was wrong and quickly did the software-determined modifications to attenuate both the rotational velocity and acceleration, making a HUGE difference to the errant behaviour.  However, I thought it could be better still.

Without going into too many details, I was strongly of the opinion that pushing the joystick (say) to the right, would result in the whole thing (meaning the rear end of the wheelchair) would also follow to the right. Ah, but it went to the left!!!

I was astonished and reckoned that THAT was an error. I went to some trouble to justify my point of view as well. However, today I was quickly proved wrong and, as I type this, still have a little egg left on my face. I’ll meet with Ron of Country Care tomorrow lunchtime at Mildura Workers to see if the last little bit of egg can be allowed to disappear.

What might seem perfectly reasonable to me in this case is, evidently from long experience of millions, is indeed better satisfied by the reverse position, so it seems. I may eventually see why...