Thursday, August 12, 2010

Setting Back the Autonomy of Wheelchair Users by Years...

a robotic wheelchair that automatically follows a human companion.

One feature that has some positive merit to it is that the wheelchair can avoid objects coming toward it.



And, yes (I know someone will ask) two wheelchairs can be designed to follow one "human companion".

Can you imagine this in crowded malls?

7 comments:

FridaWrites said...

Yes and no--for people who aren't able to steer their own wheelchairs at all (like TBI or severe cognitive disability), this could be a lot easier for caregivers since power wheelchairs are so hard to steer and keep people on more equal footing. Sometimes I've needed assistance through the attendant control, though I don't like it that potentially anyone who wants can hijack the attendant control. Certainly I'd not want this as a primary method of steering--maybe as an adjunct rarely used.

Ruth said...

Frida-

You're right, of course. As with most technology, it does depend on how it's used.

One of my concerns is it could be overused, for example, just to save money when people could autonomously operate their own chairs but this is less costly or that decision is taken away from them by others.

FridaWrites said...

Yes, I am in agreement--the use I envision is a narrow and limited one and I think that economically this kind of chair is not feasible. Another scenario I can think of--when a partner can't push their significant other--as my grandfather with my grandfather--well, a regular power chair would have done if that's what they had wanted. He did fine on my scooter when he borrowed that.

Georzetta said...

Sorry, I don't see a problem here. Everything can be misused and abused BUT I can think of several situations where this sort of chair would be useful. I think the real autonomy comes by letting the wheelchair user make their own choice about the technology.

Ruth said...

Georzetta,

True, that is real autonomy and I'd have no objection to anyone choosing it for themselves.

OTOH as long as we have young folks who do use wheelchairs in nursing homes and institutions where others set the rules , my concern is that no one's asking a segment of the population of wheelchair users what their choice is.

Ziggi said...

I passed on posting this one on my Wheelchair Diffusion blog. It's a herding device and quite contrary to what it's all about- Autonomy, independence, choice.

Lene Andersen said...

a friend of mine who is very well versed in the intricacies of Japanese culture once posted that in Japan, people who use wheelchairs never go out alone, they always have a companion with them. I don't think they've heard about independent living...