Wednesday, May 19th 2010

Foot controlled study… and more

Jack from Possum called this morning bringing with him some equipment that has enabled me to start the gradual transition from an arm/hand controlled environment to one that is controlled using my legs and feet. This should keep me going for some time as I still have a lot of movement in my feet which is more than can be said for my hands. Well I hope it will anyway because I’m running out of limbs! smile_regular  Trying to operate all the switches on my desk has become so difficult lately that more often than not I’ll simply ask one of my carers to do it for me. But this is not how I want it to be; I still want as much independence and control over my environment as possible and fortunately there is a wealth of technology out there to enable that.

One of the pieces of equipment that Jack brought with him today was a portable floor stand for the Possum Primo, the infrared environmental control unit. The idea behind this is that we’ll be able to move the unit from room to room while still having access to all the equipment in that room from the Primo. So at night for instance the stand and its clip-on Primo unit will be placed by the side of my bed. This means that from now on I’ll be able to access the bed’s profiling controls by using my feet to press a large flat button fitted at the base of the bed. This switch connects via a plug-in lead to the Primo unit which in turn sends an infrared signal to a receiver unit that Jack has fitted to the bed and which connects to the bed’s electronics. Any thoughts of my carers coming in in the morning to find me sandwiched between the bed’s panels, with only my arms and legs sticking out as evidence of my being in bed can be dismissed, as the bed’s profiling controls have been programmed with a five second cut out smile_regular.

With the stand-mounted Primo unit placed by my desk in the study I now have access to all the equipment around my desk via a plug-in foot switch. Previously you may remember me mentioning being given a little black box that enabled me to activate a desk light, ceiling light, television and photo frame. Well, the infrared codes for all these items have now been programmed into the Primo so I no longer have to have my arm supported in the ergo rest to access any of this equipment. In addition I can also operate the intercom and front door release catch – all by tapping a switch with my right foot and cycling through the options on the screen. Eventually it may become too tiresome to use my foot and if that becomes the case then I will simply have the switch mounted on the inside well of my desk and activate it using my knee.

The one remaining piece of equipment in my study that still requires me to use my hands is the telephone. A replacement that can be connected up to the Primo unit is due to be installed in the coming weeks. It was due to be part of the installation process today but apparently there is a delay with obtaining the equipment. But even so today’s adaptations have made life a little bit easier for me once again, and for that I am truly grateful.

My increasingly cluttered work environment. However, without the microphone, arm supports, foot switches, phone cradle etc I simply could not function. To the right of the picture you can see the newly mounted Primo unit on its portable stand, whilst at the bottom of the picture you can see the red foot switch.

Mark

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