Dec 292014

Client’s requirement

This referral came from an adult neurological physiotherapist for a 67 year-old paraplegic.

“Her main hobby is sewing but [following her accident] she is unable to use the foot pedal to control her sewing machine. Some people do use the foot pedal with their knee but she has no control of her legs from the waist down. We also considered using the foot pedal with her elbow but she needs two hands free to guide the material so this isn’t possible either”.


The standard ‘sip and puff’ method was chosen as the most appropriate control as it had the least impact on the user’s freedom of movement.  A device was made into which the sewing machine foot pedal is placed. A lever ‘squeezes’ the foot pedal when the user puffs (blows) into a tube and releases it when the user sips (sucks) on the tube. Only light pressure/suction is needed and the pedal remains in its last position when the user rests. An additional ‘stop’ button is provided which overrides all other controls.

The drive system consists of a 12 volt motor and epicyclic gearbox operating a lever through twin rubber belts. To allow for differing sizes of pedal, a spring-balanced torque reaction device senses when the pedal is fully compressed or fully relaxed and switches off the motor. There is a further friction clutch between the belts and lever to limit the actuating force in case of system failure.

general view     drive system     torque sensor
Fig 1 general view                                   Fig 2 drive system                               Fig 3 torque sensor


see the video (5 mins – opens in new window)

Benefits to the client

  • Fully hands-free operation as requested by client’s physiotherapist.
  • Restores client’s prime hobby activity.
  • The client had led an active life up until becoming paralysed through an accident and was now able to restore her self esteem and mental well-being through regaining a sense of achievement and purpose.

Additional factors

The device:

  • adapts to any size of foot pedal enabling easy machine upgrade or replacement;
  • does not require any intervention or connection to the sewing machine;
  • uses standard sip/puff tubes;
  • needs no tools or specialist knowledge for set-up or use;
  • allows for normal foot operation.

Herefordshire ref: 14/29/C

 December 29, 2014  Posted by at 17:29 Leisure Activities Comments Off on Device to operate the foot pedal control of an electric sewing machine
Dec 282014

There are other posts here dealing with this problem in various efficient ways.  This project was initially tackled in yet another different way.  The problem is a common one where both depression and rotation of the control is required.  A removable operator was designed that could be slotted into the aperture of the stove.  The constituent parts of the device are cheap easily available hex drive accessories for screwdrivers.  The three pictures show the principle quite clearly.

In practice although the device was successful, this was not a good solution for this client as the positioning of the operator proved too difficult.  The idea is detailed here as it may be applicable for others.






The final solution was another variant on the universal joint concept.  In this case the control knob was replaced by a brass bar, providing a suitable receptacle for a forked operating device at the end of a long steel bar.





Bedfordshire North Panel    BN25/14


Dec 282014

Client’s requirement

This referral came from a pulmonary rehab OT for a 72 year-old Crone’s sufferer who had complications from medication which resulted in surgery and the occasional need for ambulatory oxygen.

The engineer highlighted the limited mobility over rough ground of the small-wheel drag-bag compared to larger-wheel (150mm diameter) shopping trolleys and showed examples of previous solutions.  The client did not wish to invest in a larger capacity shopping trolley or have the cylinder on view.  As there was no requirement beyond using it within a supermarket or similar smooth-floored space and she was always accompanied by another person who carried the shopping, it was agreed to go ahead and do the modification as requested.

The solution

Ordinarily the drag-bag collapses for storage.  This comprises a telescoping bottom frame to reduce width, a collapsing bag and telescoping handle to reduce height.  It was necessary to pin the bottom frame with self-tapping screws through both tubes.  A wooden box was fabricated from 6mm ply with a hole in the top surface suitable to accommodate the 100 mm diameter cylinder.  The box was fixed to a plastic bicycle mudguard, which formed the supporting ‘backbone’ for the cylinder, the top end of which was secured to the bag handle frame.  The cylinder was secured at the top by a strap made from a dog collar.  The box is secured when the bag is zipped up.  The bag is sufficiently tall to almost fully enclose the cylinder for discreet use.  Space for shopping is virtually nil beyond, say, a purse and a few small items.

Herefordshire ref: 14/40/C

bag closed

bag closed

cylinder in situ

cylinder in situ

 December 28, 2014  Posted by at 17:09 Leisure Activities No Responses »
Dec 282014

IMG_3525 The client has limited use of only one hand and limited use of both feet following an accident. He wanted to continue playing a genre of computer console games known as First Person Shooter (FPS) games.

The particular characteristic of these games is that you need simultaneous and rapid use of two joysticks and also some buttons.

Much research on the internet and contact with Remap head office and blog was undertaken to establish whether suitable off the shelf solutions were around. There is a whole sub-culture of disabled gaming with quite a few commercial propositions.

Many of the solutions are applicable to Computer Games as opposed to Console Games (my client was in possession of and wished to use a Sony PS3). Some of the solutions do allow flexibility and potentially implementation of all the functions required in an appropriate manner, but would be prohibitively expensive (many hundreds of pounds). There are also now some very interesting low cost mass market devices that could potentially be used (eg motion sensing systems), but might require very complex interfacing to an existing console and game.

A pragmatic solution was arrived at by establishing what were the critical sub-set of controls necessary to play the particular game (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3) and how these could be distributed to functionality that the client could control. This resulted in a system that comprised a modified PS3 Controller accepting inputs from a foot operated joystick, a foot operated 2 position switch and a palm operated switch. The constituent parts of the system were assembled on a flat surface suitable for use on a wheelchair tray, with pluggable leads to the floor mounted controls.

Bedfordshire North Panel  BN49/13



 December 28, 2014  Posted by at 09:30 Leisure Activities No Responses »
Dec 262014

The requirement was to enable a lady who had lost the use of her arms to continue to use her own speaker phone to receive telephone calls from relatives.

The problem was solved by wiring out the contacts of the ‘Handsfree’ pushbutton to a jack socket on the side of the phone.

A set of electronics was then produced (housed in a pedestal) that listened for the phone ringing and simulated the press of the ‘Handsfree’ button to receive the call and listened for the tone when the caller hung up to simulate a further button push to end the call.

Bedfordshire North Panel    BN27/13





 December 26, 2014  Posted by at 20:48 Telephones, Alarms, Intercomms No Responses »
Dec 142014

4-13-07 cooker guard small

The client has a table top cooker with two hotplates. He has accidentally knocked pans off this hob in the past and needed a safety modification. An aluminium frame was constructed and fitted to the cooker sides and front, fixed at the corners to lessen the risk.

Bristol Remap case ref. 4\13-07

 December 14, 2014  Posted by at 13:52 Household Equipment Comments Off on Table top cooker hob guard
Dec 142014

5-14-02 settee arm rest

The client has difficulty in rising from her sofa and did not want her sofa to be modified in any way. A padded arm rest was constructed which slips under the sofa  front and allows the client to use both arms when rising.

Bristol Remap case number 5\14-02

 December 14, 2014  Posted by at 13:44 Household Equipment Comments Off on Sofa arm support – under sofa
Dec 142014

4-14-01 O2 cyl3 small

The client needed to be able to carry an oxygen cylinder on a small pushchair. A platform was made which fitted under the seat.

Bristol Remap case reference 4\14-01

 December 14, 2014  Posted by at 13:39 Uncategorized Comments Off on Pushchair oxygen cylinder attachment
Dec 142014

3-14-04 Snooker rest

The client is a keen snooker player but has difficulty in forming a bridge with his hand to hold the cue. A hardwood block was made with a built-in rest.

Bristol Remap panel case reference 3\14-04

 December 14, 2014  Posted by at 13:33 Leisure Activities Comments Off on Snooker cue rest
Dec 142014

10-14-03 stair barrier small

The client is sometimes confused due to medication being taken and needed a stairgate or barrier which could be hinged out of the way when not in use. A hinged barrier was made from wood which could be raised and held with a “detent” pin.

Bristol REMAP case reference 10\14-03

 December 14, 2014  Posted by at 13:23 Household Equipment Comments Off on Adult stair gate