Firstly…no, I don’t have any for sale. I just invented it.

Secondly…. Those are my nasty old slippers in the pic, so don’t ask for those, either.

Thirdly… What?!?

A recent “navigational-error” experienced by my mother in her power chair (involving a wall corner in her bedroom) resulted in 2 broken toes and 11 stitches. Also a trail of blood on her new carpet was a bonus. This isn’t her first accident, or her first injury. But, this was her first chair-related hospital visit. And, I was surprised to discover she wasn’t the only one in that ER this week.

These wheelchairs are very powerful. And, the way the controls are designed, impacts with objects jam the user’s hand into the joystick, forcing the chair to drive into the obstacle even harder (JOYPADS & DOMES  INSTEAD OF JOYSTICKS, YOU IDIOT MANUFACTURERS!!!).

And remember, users of these chairs are usually elderly (diminished reaction-times), usually operating these devices in the home (that aren’t usually designed to be wheel-chair accessible), and using them at all times of day (when we may have a tendency to be too ‘relaxed’ to be operating a motor vehicle).  If a couple of toes are hanging over the edge of the footplate of the chair (as they usually are… go to a local nursing home at dinner time and have a look), injury is inevitable.

After talking to ER nurses and some podiatrist staff, these types of injuries seem to be  rising. Surprisingly, it’s a difficulty on no one’s radar

I propose this… steel-toe fuzzy slippers.

Foot guards on the chair would simply be another thing to rest your foot on top of, defeating the purpose. And, no one is going to go through the hassle of donning steel-toe boots with every trip to the bathroom in their power chair. So why not some basic slippers? Plastic cups could be substituted for steel ones for lightness and cost. The edges could be eased to prevent chafing (common in steel-toe boot designs). This is possible because they’re not for industrial use (ANSI rating isn’t necessary so weight-approved designs won’t have to be followed).

And they can’t be too fuzzy, or old farts won’t wear them.

I know this sounds silly. It is. But it’s a simple solution to a growing problem. I’ve been mulling this over for almost a year since a previous bump left my mom’s toes bruised. I can’t come-up with a simpler and more effective fix (beyond a controller redesign and footplate bump sensors) for this issue. And if the demand is there (like I think it is), we have a easily manufactured product ready for medical supply stores and the late-night the infomercial circuit.

Though, I still think joypad/joy-‘dome’ controllers and footplate bump sensors are still critically necessary, too. But that’s up to manufacturers like Invacare and Bruno, and they can’t even design their chairs to be hoisted into vehicles. Won’t be holding my breath there, either.