Jul 242018

Alan Catharine, Chair of Brighton and District, has had the following suggestion from a client for adding motorised armrests to an electric wheelchair. Has anyone had experience of anything similar?

Summary of difficulty: 

I am living with Motor Neurone Disease and have reached a point where I use an electric wheelchair, have no power over my legs and very little power in my arms or hands. My occupational therapist had supplied me with moveable arm supports to help with typing, playing the keyboard and eating/drinking. However, the apparatus supplied relied on a vertical post fitted to the back of the wheelchair, with metal arms coming forward and around the chair to my own arms. These are not only bulky but can stick a long way behind the chair if I move my arm or arms back. They also add width to the chair, making it difficult to pass through doorways. If I choose not to use the arms for a period, then they have to be fitted back on by someone else.

Details of need to be met:

I have been thinking that there must be a simpler and much more compact solution which could be attached to the chair’s own armrests and I have come up with a very outline design. It may well be that you have already encountered this problem and have a solution, but if not, I’d be grateful for any thoughts that you might have.

I suspect that this sort of aid might well assist those in wheelchairs with neurological conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, MND or similar.

I have attached a very basic drawing (I can no longer draw by hand or write) to show the sort of thing I am thinking about.

Any replies please to Frank  with a copy to Alan Thank you!

  2 Responses to “Motorised armrests for electric wheelchair”

  1. Hello Frank,

    I do not have any experience of motorised arm rests but the excellent drawing your client has produced looks as if it might be possible. I do have a wheelchair going spare with motorised footrests so could provide a pair of electric rams. They are just over 300mm long unextended so possibly a bit bulky for your purpose but they are there for the asking.

    All the best Peter Sturmey (Scunthorpe and district)

  2. It seems to me that any solution attached to the chair is potentially going to get in the way to some degree when it isn’t required + it would have to cater for all the variations of arm rest encountered, and be robust enough in the way it secures to support the weight of someones arm.

    One alternative option is to attach floating arm supports to the table where keyboard etc is located, rather than the wheelchair. Ergorest is a quality product made in Finland for arm support at a desk to reduce fatigue and RSI. The downside is the height adjustment is a bit fiddly plus the arm support only rotates rather than pivoting on a ball joint – so it lends itself to setting up for a particular application, such as typing/playing a keyboard. Not sure it would help for eating – but there are products like Neater Eater covering that specific area. Ergorests come up for sale on ebay so it might be worth giving one a try.

 Leave a Reply