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Using a computer lying down in bed

  • Ian D Midgley
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  • 12 comments

(posted by Susan Iwanek)
Martin Whillock of the York panel asks if anyone knows of any commercially available equipment for people wanting to use a computer in bed. His client is severely disabled and spends a lot of time in bed. He cannot sit up and lies at an angle of 15 degrees. He has asked for a “computer support”. Martin feels that this must be a frequent problem and that there may well be a commercial solution. Any thoughts would be very much appreciated by him.

Either post replies below or contact Martin at nitram82@whillock.me.uk.

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12 responses to “Using a computer lying down in bed”

  1. Philip Watts says:

    From: Philip Watts, West Midlands Panel,

    We tackled this problem in the West Midlands Panel when we were approached by a potential client who had already purchased a Hewlett packard touchscreen computer and wished to have this suspended above his bed.

    We were able to obtain a redundant monitor arm from a hospital that was closing down. This swivelling arm had a rise and fall mechanism based on air struts but was only designed to hold a lighweight display together with a keyboard. We had to modify it by doubling up on the airstruts to take the additional weight of the touch screen computer.

    However, monitor arms seem to be readily available from PC World and other stores. I would have thought that these would suffice providing the computer base system is housed in a bedside cabinet, or one of the light tablet computers now available is employed.

    Specsavers also seem to be able to supply spectacles with prisms enabling a person in a semi prone position to look at a tv or computer screen.

    I hope that this information is of use. I can be contacted by e-mail for further information if required.

  2. Lynne Askham says:

    A company called Adapt-it at
    http://www.adapt-it.org.uk/browse_category.asp?id=8&item=Monitor+Arms
    supplies various brackets and IT equipmenbt for disabled people, and is worth a look.
    Otherwise there is nothing more to add other than what’s been said before

  3. Mel Martin says:

    I have tried Dragon voice recognition and while it may be OK for creating a document I found it to be of little use for general computer control. However windows comes with a built in voice reconition package that does allow general control of the computer, web browsing etc. It does require the user to train the computer to recognise the users voice and a good microphone near to the mouth is required. One attached to a set of headphones is ideal.

  4. Ken McMullan says:

    It would be good to get a look at the preferred position of the client. As noted earlier (assuming it’s a PC) the “computer” part can go anywhere, with the position of the monitor, mouse and keyboard being critical. I don’t see the monitor as a problem as many commercial options exist. Of greater importance is the question as to whether the client needs to SEE the keyboard. If so, it would need to be relatively high and nearly vertical. This will lead to extremely tired arms. OT input needed for sure.

  5. Terry Tomlin says:

    If the client is amenable to using a technical solution, the use of Voice Recognition Software could work.
    Probably the best available is “Dragon Naturally Speaking” and I would advise the use of VR-compatible wireless headset.
    This system is primarily used for compiling documents such as Word, but can also be used to operate a computer, including writing / manipulating e-mails, though the latter can be slow compared to the use of keyboard and mouse.
    ( The time for the system to initially “learn” the operators voice can be as little as 20mins )

  6. Keith says:

    I’d suggest that this is one for his OT – to specify what movement they would wish to encourage. I’ve only been involved with those so seriously disabled as to need to use suck-blow and eye-position input devices. The OT can also help with monitor positioning – it will probably need a ceiling or floor-stand mount to get the right position. Solutions to the input devices include voice-command software (IME, very effective for many clients), projected keyboards, large programmable touch-pads (as beloved by AutoCad users..). There is also a host of predictive text software, to minimise data entry. It may be worth also contacting a local uni computer science department – this could be a very interesting final year project or even Master’s project. The OT may also be able to “find” a suitable redundant/damaged wheeled floor stand that could be the basis of the monitor support. Don’t forget that there are other specialised keyboards that can remove the need to move hands when typing. Obviously, an optical roller-ball mouse is probably going to be better than a conventional mouse, as it can be bolted to something handy.

  7. Mike Hazelwood says:

    Perhaps something like this would be appropriate

    http://www.laptop-laidback.com/index.php?currency_code=EUR

  8. Harry Davis says:

    The Holdit Bookholder shown on the Website noted above holds a book in an inverted position. I adapted one to hold a 3″ thick loose leaf A4 folder and I think it could be adapted for a laptop or keyboard. It comes with the ability to hold an iPad.

  9. Peter Harris says:

    As I see it there are 3 items to be mounted: a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse pad. The computer itself could go anywhere.
    The standard for attaching monitors to a wall is the VESA mount, available from all sorts of electrical shops and on the internet. A VESA mount could be fixed at the correct angle to a vertical pole at the side of the bed, mounted on a base with castors.
    The keyboard could be fixed to a similar mount on the same pole.
    The mouse pad would be a problem, because of the mouse sliding off the sloping surface, so I would suggest a trackpad instead, attached by the side of the keyboard.
    There is the issue of comfort when working with arms above horizontal, which would have to be resolved with shaped cushions. It is for the comfort reason that I would not recommend a laptop, since the comfortable position for the hands may not be comfortable for the eyes.

  10. Helen Reed Cheshire Panel says:

    There are lots of lap top bed tables and standard over bed tables on the market – try amazon! However if he is lying at an angle of 15 degrees, he may need something to hold the screen or the key board at a higher angle than an ordinary table – could try voice activation instead of keyboard.

  11. Alan Hart IOW Panel says:

    This requirement is commercially available at many outlets that do kit for the disabeld.
    This site shows a photograph of a tray that can be used for using a PC in bed.

    http://www.otstores.co.uk/p/adjustable_wooden_bed_tray/category/99

    Alan H

  12. Robert Monk says:

    Without knowing more, it is difficult to suggest anything specific, but you could look at
    http://www.itcanhelp.org.uk/examples.htm
    http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/assessment

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