Locked-in Syndrome

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Quickie F55s Wheelchair

This wheelchair is made by Sunrise Medical. Normally it has a hand-operated joystick mounted on a small pod together with all the switches for the various functions. Since I cannot move my hands, mine is fitted with chin-control but the functions are unaffected. It is the classical layout of rear wheel drive with swivelling castors on the front....some people swear by front wheel drive - I can't say which is best because I never tried a front wheel drive. The rear driving wheels are inflatable while the swivel castors are solid. There is one drive motor per wheel and they both have a small spring and shock absorber to soak any bumps on the road. This is where the "classical" ends : almost everything can moved under power and what is immovable can be adjusted manually. All the following can be moved (by me) : footrests, backrest, seat angle and seat height. The seat lifts so much that I can be at eye-level with whoever is talking to me. This is useful because it's good to be at eye-level plus it allows me to see things just like standing people. The movable footrests are very useful because I can move my feet occasionally - otherwise they go numb. Lowering the backrest, I can sleep in the chair.

The control setup consists of a chin-operated joystick and two switches that I can reach with my head. The red switch is to turn on the chair while the yellow switch is the mode switch. These 2 switches and the joystick are wired to a controller (Omni+) made by Penny & Giles and with these I can control all the wheelchair's functions. The joystick itself has a foam ball on the stem that gives me a wide area to control it and to prevent me from hurting myself when I hit it (when I sneeze I hit it violently).

The seat lift
unfortunately makes the seat itself a bit unstable due to the various linkages of the seat raise mechanism. This is a bit of a problem when I go out in a van - even a small pothole makes the seat move from side to side. This is further aggrevated by the wheelchair`s suspension : the van`s suspension goes up and down and the chair`s suspension also goes up and down, making the seat unstable. It would be good if the wheelchair`s suspension could be locked with a lever and the seat lift locked when fuly down.
The other complaint is the charger : it is a metal box 25cm per side weighing about 8kg.....if you travel it`s size and weight might cause some problems at an airport
Thirdly, the manufacturer should use locking compound on the various bolts and screws....one of the pivot bolts of the seat lift mechanism of my wheelchair came off making it very unstable. Thankfully the bolt just fell under the seat, so it was a matter of just putting it back and tightening it but if got lost it could have caused a few problems.

Overall it is an excellent wheelchair where just about everything is adjustable but, if possible, do not buy it with chin-control......there is nothing wrong with the chin-control, its just that it is difficult to use and a hand joystick is so much easier to use. If you are looking to buy an electric wheelchair, apart from searcing for one that siuts your needs, also have a look at the charger and make sure it has gel batteries (they can`t leak and they are accepted by airlines).

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