Having C4/5 quadriplegia means it is difficult for Paul to get out of the house, particularly as it is hard to get wheelchair taxis near his home in Sydney’s west. His computer is therefore a vital tool for information, entertainment and communication with the outside world.
Recently Paul has also started up a business with his brother, importing parts for trucks. Paul does the ‘indoor’ work of Internet searches, managing their website and making phone calls, while his brother does the ‘outdoor’ side of transport and visiting customers.
Paul has limited hand movement on his left side, and can use a standard keyboard with a finger splint, and a standard mouse rather than a trackball. The computer is set up on a typical corner computer desk that is high enough to clear his wheelchair, but this needed modification to make it easier to use.
What Paul required was somewhere to rest his elbows when he is using the keyboard and mouse, while still being able to get close enough to the keyboard and screen. This means he doesn’t have to extend his arms so far and reduces the pain in his shoulders.
Paul had found out about TAD while he was still in hospital after his accident, when Custom Designed Aids Service Manager Winsome Baker spoke to patients about TAD’s services. In fact, he says that this was one of the few things that gave him hope at the time, as he was wondering how he would manage to do things and no-one had any answers.
When Paul approached TAD to help him with the desk, the job was allocated to volunteer Bill Adams, who lives nearby. Bill used medium density fibreboard to make an insert which fits into the front of the desk at the same height as the main part of the desk.
The insert has a rounded cutout at the centre, which enables Paul to get his chair close to the keyboard and screen while resting his elbows and the mouse on the sides of the insert. Another cutout enables Paul to access the keyboard, which rests on the original sliding keyboard shelf, slightly below the main desk and therefore underneath the insert.
Bill painted the insert grey to match the rest of the desk, and bracketed it to the main part of the desk with square steel tube. As well as making it much easier to use the desk, the insert provides a barrier against Paul falling out of his chair or directly onto the monitor if he has a spasm.
Following the success of this project, Paul has a number of other ideas that TAD could help him with. These include a ramp to enable him to weigh himself in his wheelchair and a spray to cool himself when he gets too hot in bed.