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Two Electric Wheelchair Issues

1st_Ade Community member Posts: 11 Connected
Apologies - a long posting from a first time poster. If too long skip to the two (numbered) questions at the end.

My father is 86, He's lived on his own since Mum died in 2013; his mobility gradually decreasing owing to spinal issues affecting the ability of his brain to tell his legs what to do. Over about five years he's gone from walking with difficulty to walking with a stick to walking with two crutches to a motorised scooter. He's had the latter about three years and could stagger around the house on foot well enough, get himself into the scooter and go the mile or so to the village shops. Don't know make or model of scooter but could find out (he's 130 miles away)

Late last year he was found in the hallway by a neighbour. He'd got up and dressed, a carer had made his breakfast, checked he was OK and departed, he'd headed for the front door, fallen and couldn't get up. Neighbour called 999, Paramedic called ambulance and that was the last time he saw his home (to date).

He had a temperature, Sepsis, spent seven weeks in hospital and it became obvious there had been a step (downward) change in his ability to stand, let alone walk. The NHS discharged him just before Christmas as "there was nothing more we can do; he's not improving". We got him in a private care home early January.

His scooter is not suitable for the care home; it's too big, clumsy and fast! As it took two staff and a hoist to get him from bed to manual wheelchair we got him a second hand electric wheelchair (again, apologies, don't know make and model) and he can get himself from room to lounge to Dining Room and has even ventured into the garden. The wheelchair is said to have a range of eight miles but he only ventured out of the home twice (both times accompanied by myself or my brother) when...

COVID 19 Struck. Residents confined to site, no visitors. Then a confirmed case in the home. Residents confined to their rooms. He's currently allowed around his floor but not downstairs - and I haven't seen him since late February (although we speak every day). However, he may be allowed visitors soon, he may be allowed off site and when he does I'll be hitting the M1 (to make sure he doesn't do something stupid...)

So, two questions based upon an electric wheelchair of a model I don't know and the experience of two brief excursions!
  1. Dad said that, after quite a short trip (short as in "away from the care home", not the lounge and back) he got cramp in his hand from holding the joystick. On the second trip we ended up "driving" which is even more difficult! I'm assuming it's either lack of practice or he's holding the joystick wrong but any tips?
  2. The road from the Care Home is through a housing estate. Each driveway has a dropped kerb with the paving slabs angled from house to road. His electric scooter handled these (or similar) with ease. His electric wheelchair takes on a mind of its own; as he goes from flat pavement to dropped kerb it swerves violently towards the road, as he goes up the other side it attempts to take him into a fence, wall or hedge. Again, any hints or tips appreciated.


  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 11,393 Scope online community team
    Hi @1st_Ade and welcome to our little community.
    I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your questions, but hopefully one of our members will be along with something better to contribute than me. :smile:
    Community Manager
  • 1st_Ade
    1st_Ade Community member Posts: 11 Connected
    Thanks @Adrian_Scope - and apologies (again) for jumping in with complex and long questions.
  • alieshia
    alieshia Community member Posts: 73 Courageous
    edited June 2020
    Hi @1st_Ade With regards to your first question, what type of "knob" does your dad have on his powerchair remote? 

    The standard ones tend to be quite skinny and depending on how he is holding it I can understand the cramp, I personally use the ball of my palm to move mine not my fingers.

    You can however get different knobs for them, the one I think might be suitable is more of a ball shape that way the hand isn't tensed up as much. They tend to be pull off and push on so no technical skill needed to replace them. 

    Another option for you if your dad gets tired and you need to take over driving is a second controller unit on the back of the chair, they are placed in the centre so it makes it easier for a second person to steer, there is certainly an art to moving a powerchair if you're not sat in it. 

    With regard to your second question. I would say that could be more driver error than the powerchairs fault, the reason I say this is it is the exact problem I had when I first tried to go around pavements with dropped kerbs, it does tend to pull away and practice is the only way around this. I panicked no end first time because I nearly swerved into a very expensive car! The knob needs to be kept in either exact neutral or pointed slightly away from the incline and use the slowest speed possible. Dependant on the model you can get the controller reprogrammed to change the speeds, my NHS chair is speed restricted but my travel chair I modified to get top speeds (6mph - speed demon here lol!)

    If you have any more questions please let me know. You can tag me in any posts at any time to grab my attention.
  • 1st_Ade
    1st_Ade Community member Posts: 11 Connected
    @alieshia - thanks very much for those two comments - I'll try and see what sort of knob he has for control; we didn't expect when we took him out in Late Feb that we wouldn't see him or the wheelchair again for over three months!

    And the other issue could well be driver error - when he first got the big scooter he was very tentative; over time he became more and more bold such that we couldn't keep up as he barged on a diagonal across quite a busy road assuming (as it did) that the traffic would stop for him. It's quite possible he's attacking the route as though in his old vehicle...

    I'll keep the group posted.

    Thanks again
  • Si_Obhan
    Si_Obhan Community member Posts: 34 Courageous
    edited June 2020
    With regards to pavements... the user has to learn to manage them. I find that I can’t go down steep inclines where the pavement both slopes down in front of me, and also slopes towards the road (like going down a hill but also over a dropped pavement for a driveway)... the chair tries to throw me into the road. I have to actually go into the road briefly and up a kerb on a more flat bit of pavement. You can counteract it somewhat by steering away from the slope and going slowly but this takes practice. It’s normal though and not an issue with the chair... it’s the castors following the slope of the path. It can be scary at first but eventually it becomes second nature dealing with it.
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