If you have difficulty reaching, grasping or using your joystick all day, as can happen unexpectedly even after years in a setup, there are two possibilities:
- You need a midline mount and/or alternative drive controls such as chin control or sip 'n' puff.
- You need a different joystick handle, and/or the handle placed in a different position. A handle can be placed adjacent to an arm rest, or can be positioned at the elbow, knee or foot.
Below we highlight our own line of joystick handles and what users might benefit from each. Each of the handles below is available in both stem sizes (3/16" or 1/4"), to fit all major power wheelchair brands. As always, where the handle is placed is as important as the handle itself, so taking a few minutes of "trial and error" to get it right makes all the difference.
This rubber dome handle is our shortest handle (1"), but with a wide diameter. So it would work well for someone who can and wants to keep fingers open, and has good control of palm muscles. The textured surface also helps prevent slipping, and PVC rubber dampens spasms and reduces pressure on the fingers or wrist.
This "electric blue" aluminum top handle is more for style than special needs. It can fill a child or teen's hands for an easy grip (though adults like it, too!), but requires the ability to deal with a more slippery material and no particular "anchor point" for the fingers other than underneath the knob. It is a good option for paraplegics and some incomplete quadriplegia.
The ball knob handle is taller than standard knobs of this type, in order to fill the user's hand, for more comfortable use. This plastic is not as slippery as aluminum, but is a smooth texture, apart from the seam in the middle. The shape permits easier release when stopping the wheelchair.
The U-shaped handle has been praised by users with overall weakness, such as ALS and muscular dystrophy. The raised left and right "wings" help keep the hand from sliding off, while the "waterfall edges" fore and aft give the palm more leverage. This shape also allows for using elbow and shoulder muscles to a certain extent.
The mushroom head's high friction surface, coupled with rubber-like feel and small surface area, makes it easy to grip for users with a very limited range of motion. The flexible head will also dampen spasms and the hand pressure associated with high tone.
Our most customizable handle is the straight but flexible joystick, which can be cut to length with a band saw (the end would then require sanding) and can be grasped with only the last finger joint. The vertical design allows users to attach something else to the end for more leverage. For a user with very limited hand function, this would be the first option to try.
If you can use a traditional joystick, there is likely something in the BP line that can help. Let us know what questions we can answer.