Monica enjoys sitting at her dining table, reading the newspaper and looking out over the park behind her house in Sydney’s Inner West. She has had motor neuron disease for 27 years and uses a wheelchair for moving around, but finds an office-type chair more comfortable when she is sitting at the table.
Like most office chairs, Monica’s chair has a standard five-leg star base with castors, and a swiveling seat. The problem was that this made it difficult for her carers to safely transfer Monica into the chair, as the legs or seat could move under the impact of her weight during the transfer.
This risked discomfort or injury to Monica if she landed incorrectly, and also injury to the carer, particularly if they were small and slight. The therapist from Home and Community Care therefore suggested that TAD develop a mechanism to stop the chair from moving and stop the seat from swiveling.
Because the height of the seat is sometimes altered depending on where the chair is being used, TAD volunteer Jim Lemon could not lock the legs and the seat together, and had to create two separate mechanisms to perform these functions.
To stop the chair from moving, Jim used standard spring-loaded doorstop devices with metal pins and rubber stoppers on the end, which he bolted to two of the legs on opposite sides of the star base. Without having to bend down, the carer can push down on the pins with his or her foot to hold the chair in place, and push the attached tabs to release it.
To stop the seat from swiveling, Jim bolted a thick metal post to the chair’s seat plate, and mounted two metal fingers at the bottom of this post, parallel to the floor. When the carer pushes the fingers through 90º with his or her foot, the fingers go down on either side of one of the chair legs, locking the seat to the leg and thus keeping it in place. A lever above the fingers enables the carer to raise them and release the seat, again without bending down.