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Wheelchair bumper

Client with inoperable broken hip often needed to have legs raised.  The wheelchair utilised special leg raisers which were vulnerable to breakage as were the occupant’s legs when manoevring.  Solution was to clamp a mount onto the wheelchair with a sliding U-tube adjustable for the various positions.  This provided a robust, hi-viz ‘bumper bar’ as the first point of contact.

 Utube mount

u-tube mount

 Utube fwd

u-tube forward position

 Utube travel

travelling position

Utube back

u-tube rear position


Swivel chair for dining table access

An elderly client was unable to get up unaided from the dining table.  Carers had to slide the chair away from the table (with client aboard) and then rotate chair & client sideways to enable him to stand.

A stair-lift chair was obtained and the offset boss cut and re-welded into a central position.  A robust metal chair had its back removed and a strong wooden base fitted.  The stair-lift chair was then attached utilising the original mounting plate; a long bolt secured the two parts to prevent separation when lifting the chair.

The 90 degree swivel feature of the original stair-lift chair was retained enabling the carer to simply press the lever to release the lock and assist the client to ‘walk’ his feet so rotating to/from the table.  The left chair arm was raised during rotation to prevent a pinch point between it and the table.

chair at table

chair at table

chair rotated out

chair rotated out

client sitting

client sitting

client at table

client at table


Wireless hands-free alarm

Identified need
The client has no fine motor control of his hands but can use arms and/or head.  He is confined to bed and feels insecure at night as he is not able to alert a carer in another room or part of the house.

This unit is based on the Wilko Standard Portable Door Chime which comprises a bell-push and chime unit which connect wirelessly.  The finger push button is replaced by a wobble switch (Fig 1) to enable easy activation.  A simple adjustable clamp holds the wobble switch at a convenient location, eg on the bed headboard.  The chime unit (Fig 2) can be in any other room in the house, or garden depending on the number and density of walls and other obstructions.

wobble switch actuator

Fig 1: wobble switch actuator

chime unit

Fig 2: chime unit




Remote camera shutter release

Identified need:
Client suffered a stroke and has lost most use of right arm.  He is a professional photographer and has tried various methods to operate the camera and shutter release simultaneously but none are satisfactory; feels he needs a bespoke solution.  Camera is a Canon EOS 6D DSLR .  The viewfinder rather than screen is used for composition.

focus button

Fig 1: focus button

The original shutter button has a two-stage action: pressing half-way engages the focus mechanism, pressing further releases the shutter. This two-stage action was retained by using separate switches: the focus switch being finger operated (Fig 1) with the shutter release achieved with a ‘puff’ switch (Fig 2). As in the existing arrangement, the shutter could not be released without first activating the focus.

shutter release puff switch

Fig 2: shutter release puff switch

hand grip

Fig 3: hand grip










An old Vivitar grip proved ideal as a base for producing a device.  The lead from a remote switch was utilised to provide the plug for the camera and a miniature switch positioned in the cable release slot on the grip.  A ‘puff’ switch was attached to the base of the grip with the tube secured with a twist-tie.

To enable the grip to be mounted to either camera or lens, the existing cold shoe on the top of the grip was adapted to a ¼” UNC thread (Fig 3) enabling fitment to camera base or directly onto longer lenses for better balance.

After using the device the client felt the puff switch was vulnerable to impact as he lacked control when putting down the camera.  A guard was fabricated using two small chair caster cups back-to-back with suitably positioned slots and hole for the cabling.  This ensured the puff tube exited at right angles and formed a stable base to stand the unit upright.


Fig 4: switch guard


Hfd 15/05/B Kings modular cutlery


Problem: Client only has the use of the right arm which is limited due to, amongst other things, having a fixed elbow. Consequently, he has a specialist spoon with two 30 degree bends and a grip handle. The pieces slot together and can be rotated to the desired position. The problem is that he has poor motor control and so exerts excessive force on the joints. Over time the joints become slack and the spoon position wanders. He pushes paper into the joints to tighten them but this merely forces them apart and splits them eventually.
Solution: The client obtained new adaptors and each was fitted with a ½ inch ID brass olive fixed with superglue; this was then covered with a heat-shrink sleeve.Retaining the ability to modify the angle of the various pieces (rather than simply permanently fixing them together) ensures any future change in the client’s condition can be accommodated.

Device to operate the foot pedal control of an electric sewing machine

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.


Drag-bag conversion to take ambulatory oxygen cylinder

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

Xylophone stand

Xylophone standThe client has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. She plays the xylophone and required a stand, to house her equipment, on wheels to move it around her home.

A stand designed and built by the engineer to fit the client’s requirements.

The client can now play the xylophone when she wants to and move it around the house.

Wheelchair tray (stowable)

Wheelchair tray (stowable)The 50 year old client was born with severe disabilities. She spends much of her life in her electric wheelchair but is extremely active. She required a table or tray for her chair which was easy to attach and could be stowed behind the chair when not required.

Special fittings were made to achieve her requirements.

The client now has an easy to install table on which she can make notes and eat snacks, etc.


Urine bottle holder

Urine bottle holderThis client has a hospital bed with safety rails. He needs to use a urine bottle at night on a frequent basis. He cannot reach the bottles over the safety rail.

A wire bottle holder was made to hang on the safety rail.

The client now has easy and safe access to the bottles.


Table raiser

Table raiserA wheelchair-using client, Andrew, required a table which he could use whilst in his wheelchair.

A table was constructed of the correct height with a circular cutout to allow him to sit close to it.

Using the table, Andrew is now able to do many things from his wheelchair which he had previously found difficult.

Sloping footstool

Sloping footstoolThe client with very undeveloped legs required a sloping foot stool to enable her to use the toilet.

A sloping footstool was made to all the necessary measurements and covered with non-slip matting.

The client now has much more independence when using the toilet.


Safety steps & rail

Safety steps & railThe three year old client has balance and mobility problems.

The stone steps from the house to a decking area where he plays are narrow and steep. He also needed a rail to hold on to when going down steps. A set of wooden steps, deeper and less steep, with a hand rail which is large enough to allow growth were built.

The client can now access the decking area on his own safely.

Safety gate

Safety gateThe client is 18-months old and has many severe disabilities. The kitchen has a very wide opening into the dining room and a gate was required to keep the client safely out of the way when her mother was cooking.

A gate based on a level crossing gate was made. When not required it fixes up against the wall pillar.

The client can play safely in full view of her mother whilst she prepares meals.

Recliner chair raiser

Recliner chair raiserDorothy’s recliner chair was too low in the seat, causing difficulty for her in standing up. She was also unable to operate the recliner mechanism.

A heavy frame was constructed and bolted to the metal base of the chair. The frame was made longer than the original base to ensure stability when the chair was fully reclined. Slipper castors were fitted to allow the chair to be moved but to provide some resistance so that it did not move when reclined. A quarter “ship’s wheel” was attached to the lever mechanism to allow Dorothy to access the recliner mechanism in either the raised or lowered position.

Dorothy is now able to get up from the chair much more easily and to operate the recliner mechanism without assistance.

Needlework aid

Linsey is severely disabled and able to use only her mouth to carry out tasks. Her hobby is embroidery and she had difficulty in keeping the sampler frame steady.

A specially shaped wheeled holder was made, to which the sampler frame is clamped. Specially adapted tweezers were also supplied to allow her to hold the embroidery needle in her mouth.

Linsey is now able to enjoy her needlework hobby.


Leg lifter

Leg lifterThe client had great difficulty lifting his legs onto his electric scooter. Conventional leg lifter did not work.

An adjustable strap was fitted to each shoe with a strong loop at the top. A handle with a good grip and a hooked end can be used to hook onto the loops to lift each foot independently.

The client is now far more independent.

Garden ramp

Garden rampThe client, aged four years, is a slow developer and has only just started to walk. There are very steep steps from a patio to a lawn which is the client’s play garden. A ramp would enable the client to access the garden unaided.

A long ramp (8’) was built with a hand rail to run parallel with the fenced off patio. The little girl can now find her way from the house to her play garden unaided and safely. On fine days she uses it 40-50 times in a day and has given her much more confidence.


Drinks aid

Drinks aidThis client was unable to get himself a drink at night after his carers left at 6.30pm.

The client could raise himself in his adjustable bed into a sitting position. Using a cyclists’ drinking bag, a cold drink could be provided by wiring the drinking tube into a position he could reach. A hot drink was provided by using another tube and a coffee percolator which could be prepared by his helpers and switched on and off with a rocker switch.

The client can now have up to four hot drinks a night plus cold drinks as required.

Chair raisers

Chair RaisersThe clients are a couple who are both partially disabled. They use two folding chairs in their kitchen but they were too low.

Trays were made on which the chairs could be placed giving stability and raising the seats by four inches.

Greater use can now be made of the chairs and they can still be folded up and removed.


Bath steps and board

Bath steps and boardThe client, a ten-year old boy, has severe disabilities. He was unable to use the Victorian bath in their new house.

A removable platform and step were constructed from wood. The step had a nonslip top. The platform was covered in tiles as used on the bathroom floor.

The client can now get into the bath unaided by climbing up the step and onto the platform and down into the bath. Both items can be moved when not required.


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