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Thread: Do you use a sip-puff wheelchair?

  1. #1

    Do you use a sip-puff wheelchair?

    I'm looking into getting a new chair, but I want to make the best decision possible. I've always used a rear-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive really intrigues me. I used a Permobil FW drive for a few weeks, but the problems with the sip-puff distracted from the overall performance. That was almost 10 years ago, maybe things have improved.

    I want to gather some info from other sip-puff users to help me decide. Would you mind answering these questions and passing them along to other sip-puff users?

    1. Is your chair front wheel drive, center wheel drive or rear wheel drive?
    2. What is the make/model of your chair?
    3. What is the age of your chair?
    4. How often does your chair require repair?
    5. If you're cruising along in 3rd speed, can you drop back to 2nd or 1st speed without actually stopping?
    6. Would you recommend the make/model of your chair to others?

    Thank you.

    Chuck

  2. #2
    You don't say what injury level you are or how much neck movement you have but if you have some you might find other control systems that can work for you. I'm c3 but ventilated so didn't want sip/puff, I've tried a number of different systems head control proportional and non proportional, I prefer proportional but found that the return spring was too strong for extended periods of driving. Chin control both arm mounted to wheelchair and using a Switch-it neck harness and micro joystick. This was my preferred choice as it gave room above my tracheostomy tube for the ball, I don't pull it down onto the tube and shove trache into my throat! I'm hoping to get a trial of Now Technologies gyro headset, that sits on your head and as you rotate your head it steers, tip forward to go forward, back for reverse. Limited control system available at the moment. Technology is moving on and I keep looking to find the "perfect" controller but so far have not done so

  3. #3
    Thanks for the input mrb. I've used sip-n-puff for 36 years, I guess I'll stick with it. You mentioned you use a ventilator. Have you looked into diaphragm pacemakers (phrenic nerve stimulators)? I'm a C2 and have used the pacers for 35 years.

    Chuck

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckFoss View Post
    Thanks for the input mrb. I've used sip-n-puff for 36 years, I guess I'll stick with it. You mentioned you use a ventilator. Have you looked into diaphragm pacemakers (phrenic nerve stimulators)? I'm a C2 and have used the pacers for 35 years.
    Yes, looking at them but I am in the UK and our NHS won't fund the operation. They look at the cost of the op and saving on healthcare and if it doesn't balance you don't get it. My chest consultant put the numbers together, wanted to do the operation but we didn't get the go ahead.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    It looks like I’m going to go the sip and puff route, but I seem remarkably challenged – – both at remembering what to do quickly enough and that producing the proper breaths. I have no anatomical limitations to explain my astonishing ineptitude – – just slightly compromise diaphragm. Have you any advice for me, any pointers?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckFoss View Post
    I'm looking into getting a new chair, but I want to make the best decision possible. I've always used a rear-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive really intrigues me. I used a Permobil FW drive for a few weeks, but the problems with the sip-puff distracted from the overall performance. That was almost 10 years ago, maybe things have improved.

    I want to gather some info from other sip-puff users to help me decide. Would you mind answering these questions and passing them along to other sip-puff users? I am a c2c3 quadriplegic. I don't use a sip-puff, but thought I'd chime in. I have used a chin cup, and also the mini joystick chin control.

    1. Is your chair front wheel drive, center wheel drive or rear wheel drive? Mid-wheel
    2. What is the make/model of your chair? Permobil M3
    3. What is the age of your chair? Just received it last week.
    4. How often does your chair require repair? N/A yet
    5. If you're cruising along in 3rd speed, can you drop back to 2nd or 1st speed without actually stopping? No
    6. Would you recommend the make/model of your chair to others? Yes

    I have used a chin control on all of my wheelchairs since I became a quadriplegic in 1992. (I also have a diaphragmatic pacer). The chin control was always mounted on a swing away bracket until I received the latest chair. I now have a Haims harness, which is not mounted on the chair. It hangs from a harness around my neck. I find it much more comfortable because with the mounted bracket, at times it was difficult to reach. It caused shoulder and neck pain.

    Thank you.
    Thank you,
    Cindy

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckFoss View Post
    I'm looking into getting a new chair, but I want to make the best decision possible. I've always used a rear-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive really intrigues me. I used a Permobil FW drive for a few weeks, but the problems with the sip-puff distracted from the overall performance. That was almost 10 years ago, maybe things have improved.

    I want to gather some info from other sip-puff users to help me decide. Would you mind answering these questions and passing them along to other sip-puff users?

    1. Is your chair front wheel drive, center wheel drive or rear wheel drive?
    2. What is the make/model of your chair?
    3. What is the age of your chair?
    4. How often does your chair require repair?
    5. If you're cruising along in 3rd speed, can you drop back to 2nd or 1st speed without actually stopping?
    6. Would you recommend the make/model of your chair to others?

    Thank you.
    Electric bag emptier
    electric door opener
    better air mattress
    environmental control - lights, fans
    new water bag
    phone/tablet mount for wheelchair
    power booster for faster speed on wheelchair


    1. Mid-wheel drive


    2. Permobil M300


    3. Just over 3 years old


    4. Either my charger, my batteries, or a combination of the two were not working correctly after 1.5 years of use. DME started by replacing my batteries, but they did not use the exact batteries recommended for the chair by Permobil. I've seen discussions on this forum and elsewhere that this is a problem. I've been trying to get the correct batteries ever since and I believe those will be installed next week. I have an optical switch on the sip and puff. It has stopped working twice and the whole sip and puff assembly had to be replaced. If I had to do it over again I would skip the optical switch altogether and just use the switch on my headrest even though it's not as safe.


    5. So I think I know what you're asking here. I believe my chair can be programmed to do this, but (don't quote me on this) it has to be done through a switch and possibly another type of control like a head array. I have a friend with a set up like this where she uses the sip and puff to start/stop and left/right and the head array to control the speed.


    Now this is probably my biggest area of frustration with this wheelchair. Actually it's not the wheelchair but the R-Net Omni control which is used by several manufacturers I believe. I have my chair in latched mode. If you are unfamiliar, in latched mode you give a hard sip or puff to go forwards or backwards and the chair will keep going in that direction until you stop it. Within latched mode you can do either "Step" or "Cruise". In Step mode the latch will step up/down the speed for each hard sip/puff . There are 5 steps


    Cruise mode is what I had used exclusively for the first 17 years with my Quickie and Invacare wheelchairs. I had each of those chairs programmed in the latched, cruise mode for both forward and reverse (Crev on the Omni). I believe both times I had to sign papers taking responsibility for doing the reverse latched mode. Cruise mode allows you to give a longer sip/puff to ramp up the speed rather than having to give several individual commands to get there. But that's really not the biggest advantage to Cruise mode which is that you can use cruise mode essentially like step mode with 20, more subtle steps instead of only 5 in the step mode. This is very helpful, especially when operating in a tight area. Otherwise in step mode you are really having to constantly adjust the speed separately. Frankly I'm not sure why anybody would ever use step mode IF cruise mode worked "correctly".


    The problem with cruise in the Omni control is that there's no way to slow down. You can only stop completely. So if you are zipping along you should be able to do a small hard sip to slow down a little. Instead with this control system that will bring the chair to a screeching halt. It makes cruise mode for outdoor, faster speeds unusable unless you are going for whiplash. On my previous 2 wheelchairs you could just give the opposite command to speed up/slowdown at the same increments. If you had to stop quickly you either hit your kill switch (required to use latched mode) or you would give 2, quick hard sips (if you are going forward).


    For the life of me I can't figure out how it makes any sense to be designed this way. Perhaps if somebody here has made it to this point in my rambling post they could tell me how the behavior in cruise mode is necessary for using other, more popular alternate drive controls like a head array.


    What I've done for the last three years is used cruise mode inside my room, van, or tighter public areas like the seating area of a restaurant. I have a couple profiles in step mode for more open areas or cruising around outside. It's not ideal by any means, but I can live with it because I really like this wheelchair in almost every other way. When I first received the chair and realized the problem with cruise/latched mode I reached out to Permobil and then to PG Drives/Curtiss Wright who make the R-net Omni control on my wheelchair. I had several discussions and email exchanges with one of the Engineering Support Managers at Curtiss Wright. For the whatever reason those exchanges died. I probably became busy with work and let it go. Now that I'm looking at this again I think I might reach back out to them.


    6. Even despite the problem described in #5 and the battery issues I would recommend my chair to others. I love the maneuverability of the mid-wheel drive. I have 7.5 mph motors. I would love it if I could go even faster like my Invacare with the gearless brushless motors, but this chair has great power IMO. My only other complaint about this chair would be the way you have to extend the foot pedals because otherwise the front wheels will hit them when you turn. I understand this is not a problem with the new M3/5 Permobil mid-wheel chairs. My Invacare rearwheel drive chair was more comfortable on bumpy surfaces, but I would expect that with the big drive wheel right underneath my seat on the mid-wheel drive chair. And of course none of that has anything to do with sip and puff controls.


    In my condition I cannot imagine going to a different type of drive control. I actually have just enough shoulder/bicep where I probably could be controlling with a joystick. It would probably look cooler to have a joystick. However, I don't believe I would have the level of control I get from the sip and puff, especially when you consider spasms, driving up/down different slopes, or driving while tilted or reclined. The sip and puff controls certainly take practice. I imagine even a joystick does. In particular the hard versus soft puff can get you into some trouble. I definitely rammed through a few walls while mastering that one.


    I was going to start a different post for this, but if anybody has a line on the hard plastic sip and puff straws without the vented tip I would love to hear about it. I only have 2 of them left and they aren't in great shape. Supposedly they aren't being made anymore.


    Hope some of this runaway post helps. :-)


    Chad

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