The DesignAbility Program has created hundreds of custom solutions for children and adults. Below are some examples of these unique wheelchair / furniture projects.
Request: A bariatric client needed a transport chair with additional attendant brake controls.
Action: Wheel brake assemblies were recovered from a used rollator. A new transporter (bariatric) chair was purchased, along with handle bar levers, cables and handgrips. The handlebars were extended for more leverage and clearance for mounting. Suits the family just right!
Request: The client requested a portable cup holder that could attach and be easily removed from his wheelchair.
Action: Volunteer used a standard fold-up cup holder and mounted it onto a 1/4" formed plastic hook that slides onto the side of the clients wheelchair.
Mobile Wireless Alarm (to alert caregivers)
Request: Phase 2 of current project - client requested a mobile receiver unit using essentially the same design as the Phase 1 static receiver unit. The mobile unit would accompany the client when he was away from home, usually at a day program. Main extra technical issues in providing mobility were: the need for battery power with appropriate charging function for the mobile unit; and a power switch so the mobile unitl could be disable and would not be triggered when the unit was inside the client's home.
Solution: Hamilton volunteer Graham Hicks was able to accommodate the clients request. The basic design developed for Phase 1 was utilized for Phase 2. The major challenge was selecting a battery technology that provided sufficient power as frequent as changing of batteries was not acceptable, given the unit was to be mounted on the clients outside chair and was not readily accessible. Capacity in AHR's, voltage and size were key parameters to be met. A lead-acid 6V, 1.3AHR sealed rechargeable battery was chosen with appropriate charging control and has proved successful.
Range was less of an issue since the receiver was close to the clients activation button. Charging was facilitated by placing the charging jack, cable mounted and readily accessible when the chair was in its usual overnight location. Status LED's indicate battery charge condition, receiver operational state and on/off status.
Secure Foot Rest/Holder for Wheelchair
Request: Client requested a solution to secure his feet on wheelchair. This was especially important when the client is driving his hand-controlled van.
Solution: Mark Ewar, Hamilton Chapter Volunteer assembled a simple wood box with vinyl covered padding and secured it to the wheelchair foot plate.
Elevator Push Button
Request: Client requested a solution easily reach and push the elevator buttons.
Solution: Karen Byvelds, Ottawa Chapter Chair, produced this clever solution using an umbrella handle with a rubber end to assist a student in pressing elevator buttons independently. The handle collapses allowing this tool to be easily stored and transported in a bag or on her wheelchair.
Request: Client needs assistance in plugging in a scooter charger.
Solution: Charger Cord Holder is a simple device made of wood which guarantees that the charger end is oriented properly for the charge port in the scooter, eliminating the need to make several tries and reducing the likelihood of damaging the port or the prongs inside the cord end. The solid flat shape is also often easier to hold securely than the round shape of the charger end. This means that the end can be pushed in with both hands instead of one if preferred. This simple device can save a lot of frustration and possibly avoid expensive damage to the wheelchair or scooter.
Request: Client requested a tray/table to handle a laptop. It must be small, have some edging & a cut-out for joystick. Client does not drive her chair very well.
Solution: Using 1/2" Baltic birch core, blue laminate and formed grey PVC for arm guides, a tray was assembled. White edging was added, along with black P.E. "U" hold-downs with hitch-pins at rear. Fits client's needs, and is easy for homecare to install.
Request: Client requested a Take-Me-Along holder for her grabber, to suit her manual wheelchair.
Solution: Using 1" x 2" aluminium tube, two notched angles were trimmed to fit under the right arm of the chair. Chicago screws were used to attach them. Fits clients needs, and she can still reach the driving rim of the wheel.
Request: Elderly client requested a tray - lightweight to suit her manual chair, for reading and eating in front of the TV.
Solution: Using 1/4" Baltic birch core, granite laminate, alum angle and grey PVC, a very light tray was supplied. Longer notches were provided to ease hooking-up. Fits clients needs & abilities and is easy to attach and remove.
Request: Clients transfer chair needed an insert to match height of her van.
Solution: 16 GA sheet steel was formed to provide 6" lift. 1 1/4" PVC cross-tube spacers keep tracks correctly spaced. Green spacers were added for side-to-side adjustment. Provided lift with minimal weight increase.
Request: Client needed a substantial scooter basket, with two-barrel cane holder, and a protective cover for top-mounted controls.
Solution: Using 1" square steel mesh, a basket was formed & welded. Attached to perforated tube with hinges for movement. Two 2" ABS tubes with bottom stoppers hold canes. Client is able to carry lots of stuff, and canes are already for use whenever she stops.
Request: The client has an adult sized tricycle that he has been using for 25 years. He is unable to keep his feet on regular pedals, an extended wood platform has been bolted to each pedal and a retaining strap mounted to it stop the feet falling off. Various methods had been used; the last being a hoop of marine wire rope (1/4" dia) covered by a tube of thick plastic. After using for 1 year, the plastic tubes had been worn through and one of the hoop ends had become disconnected from the pedal. The client indicated the hoops were too large and allowed his foot to move forward too much. The existing hoops were also difficult to adjust and damaged his sneakers.
Solution: A self-supporting hoop is necessary so the client can rotate the pedal upwards by lifting the hoop up with his toe. He then slides his foot into the hoop on top of the wood platform. The material should be abrasion resistant, sustainable, weatherproof and soft to avoid damage to shoes. The size of the hoop should be adjustable.
Rubber from a wheelbarrow tire was selected and can be cut with a craft knife and holes created with a leather punch. A strap about 1 1/4" wide was cut and fastened. The strap is angled at 30 degrees from the vertical so it rests flat over the shoelaces.
Bottom Pedal View
Request: Client had difficulty keeping the wheels clean from debris, dirt which created a messy floor upon entering his home. Can we assist with something that can easily clean the wheels without bending or getting out of the chair?
Request: The client uses a powered wheelchair and wanted a box fitted to the front of it so she would have somewhere to put her shopping etc. The box should be as large as possible and have a rain proof lid. The lid should also have a rim so that the lid could be used as a table for take-out food.
Solution: The result was a steel box with its base above the clients knees. The box is deep enough that it can hold a packet of washing powder. The front of the box is lozenge shaped to match the plan view of the wheelchair foot supports, and the lid is hinged at the back. The rim around the lid is 1/16" thick plastic, and there are gaps between it and the lid, which prevents rain/snow from collecting on the lid.
Attached to the footrests are two 3/4" diameter tubes with their bottom ends plugged. Attached to the shopping box are two 3/4" diameter tubes with their top ends plugged. To mount the box on the wheelchair, we used two 16" long pieces of 1.2 diameter copper tubing into the tubes attached to the footrests, and slide the box tubes over the top ends of these tubes. The tubes are angled so that the weight and centre point of gravity of the box will withstand various weights. The fit is not precise which causes the box to rattle a bit. When storing the box between shopping expeditions, you store the tubes inside the box.
Volunteer: Colin Hardman
Request: Client requested something to help shield him from the rain, snow, etc. as it is not possible for him to manually hold an umbrella or attach to his chair in a safe / stable manner.
Request: Client was unable to easily access each room in home due to unlevelled transition between spaces
Solution: A wood transition strip was place in between rooms which allows for the wheelchair to easily move between rooms / spaces with ease
Request: Physiotherapist suggested an extension of the handles on clients manual chair.
Solution: 3/4" OD steel tubing was bent to suit. Plastic end caps filled the open ends and a new rubber handle grip was added. Two dual-tube adjustable clamps were assembled and provide simple attachment and removal. This is an interchangeable piece, should the wheelchair be replaced in the future.
Request: Client got new power chair and needed something to glow-in-the-dark for safety.
Solution: A highway worker's t-shirt was purchased and fit the back cushion. This creates a safer ride and is easily visible by vehicles, etc.
Request: Originally installed in the bedroom (May 2013), client asked to have the lift re-located.
Solution: Hardwood floor was very unlevelled and required multiple LV puck shims. A posterior board/support was added to ease the clients lifting to reach the seat. A new power pack and back-up batteries were added to resolve charging issues.
Request: Petite young lady is unable to participate in family boating because her wheelchair is too wide for the dock.
Solution: A recycled lightweight travelling wheelchair was acquired. New strap-style weave seat and back were stitched up and fastened to existing bolt holes. This narrowed the inside of the chair to 14", and reduced the overall width to only 17-1/2". Chair still folds up for easy transport. Client is now able to join her family on their boat!
Request: Client was unable to easily access the exterior patio of her home due to the high transition between areas
Solution: A transition strip/ramp was installed to alleviate the issue. The client is now able to access the exterior area with ease and confidence.
Request: Client required a broda-style chair, with single leg lift for continued hospital stay and future home use. Limited timeframe and financial constraints prompted a call to DesignAbility.
Solution: Using 5/8" Baltic birch plywood and short lengths of steel tube, a simple leg support was added quickly.
Request: Client needed a simple cane holder for a quad-base cane to attach to her power chair. She was unable to get one.
Solution: Using 1-1/4" I.D. ABS sewer pipe, two 90 degree galvanised clips and Chicago screws, a cane-through was fabricated and attached to her chair with tie-wraps.
Client is able to place and retrieve cane easily.
Request: Client requested larger wheels be added to her folding walker- 5" wheels did not handle well on grass, unlevelled areas, etc.
Solution: Using 7" and 8" ball-bearing front wheels from old recycled wheelchairs, and new 5/16" bolts, the walker was upgraded.
Request: 'My scooter basket won't even hold one bag of groceries!' Client needed a large basket attached to scooter in order to shop for groceries, etc. Needs to be able to shop independently.
Solution: Using 1"X1" mesh, a large scooter basket was welded to accommodate the clients request. While travelling, we found a Macy's zippered bag that just suited the client and her red scooter.
Scooter steering handle tilts and basket upper attachment allows for this. Client was able to shop with ease.
Request: To build a supplemental tray that could mount into existing attachment bracket for in-home use. Swivel optional.
Solution: Using backing PVC board from used manual wheelchair, a new 18" X 10" tray was fabricated. Formed PVC arm-rest cap and welded steel straps provide insertion and attachment.
Easy to install and swivel. Provides in-home flexible surface for reading/ coffee cup etc.
Request: To repair attachment holder which was broken. Client also required us to re-face tray- seriously scarred in accidental impact.
Solution: Steel straps replaced plastic holder new burgundy laminated re-topped tray.
Request: Special needs little boy needed a tilting feeding/ activity chair with head and trunk support and growing room all around.
Solution: A recycled 'zippie' child's chair frame was acquired and matched up with Baltic birch sides/seat/ back to provide the basis for the chair. Adjustable foot support was added, along with a complete head support from another recycled chair. Foam mats were cut and trimmed to provide cushioning. These were provided in layers to allow for simple expansion of the chair width as he grows. The back is fully adjustable in steps.
Request: A porch lift (New in 2005) stopped functioning. Inside wiring assembled an old rat's nest. Parts were estimated at $1,700; labour extra and NO GUARANTEE!
Solution: A new control box was assembled with two heavy-duty motor contactors. A two-button winch control cord was added, with magnet (on the back) for easy locating in the travelling lift compartment.
Request: Mother has been recently wheelchair bound. But being very petit; she is uncomfortable in a standard chair and feels like she is always falling out. Ideas?
Solution: A recycled child's manual chair was acquired, and a new fabric-covered seat cushion added. The wheels were tilted by 15 degrees for her comfort. A Baltic birch & laminate tray table were added for eating and activities, as well as a new seatbelt.
Solution: The lift was removed along with a steel deck extension. The railings were feeble. We welded some supports to attach to the old concrete deck with HD tapcon fasteners. Drilling a pair of holes in each vertical for bolts made the railings substantial and safe.
Senior's lift chair needed work. The wood cross supports were cracked and the lift action was very fussy. Any ideas?
Solution: The wooden pivot/support frame was reinforced with two 1 1/2" steel angles. The pivot bolts were replaced to extend through welded-on HD washers on these angles for strength and durability. A simple two position selector switch in a handy control box was wired into a recycled up/down cylinder to bypass the original system.