Date of Award
School of Engineering
The development of a Power Wheelchair Trainer for use by individuals with severe motor, cognitive, and communication deficits is described. These individuals, who are limited in their ability to use self-initiated mobility, are typically not considered to be candidates for power wheelchair use. The Power Wheelchair Trainer provides a motorized platform that allows a manual wheelchair to be temporarily converted into a power wheelchair, thereby permitting these individuals to practice using powered mobility while optimally positioned in their own customized seating systems. To accommodate the needs of these individuals, the Power Wheelchair Trainer incorporates additional control features not available in commercial systems. These additional features include: 1) a platform that may be raised or lowered for loading and unloading of the manual wheelchair without lifting; 2) a wireless joystick and multiple types of switch inputs for versatile drive control; 3) a safety remote with an override joystick and emergency stop switch; and 4) a user interface permitting the therapist to configure programmable settings. Programmable settings included: 1) joystick center dead-zone; 2) joystick outer dead-zone with time-out; 3) joystick sensitivity, also known as tremor dampening; 4) joystick throw; 5) speed; 6) acceleration; 7) deceleration; and 8) invert mode. A prototype of the Power Wheelchair Trainer was developed for use with children and young adults at the Lincoln Development Center, an area public school in Grand Rapids, Michigan that provides special education services. Power mobility experts have expressed positive feedback about the Power Wheelchair Trainer and would like to see more rehabilitation centers and schools offer this unique training opportunity.
Hildebrand, Stewart James, "Development of a Control System for a Power Wheelchair Trainer" (2014). Masters Theses. 717.