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Thread: Special carts and head controls are giving the disabled off-road thrills

  1. #1

    Special carts and head controls are giving the disabled off-road thrills

    Motoring
    November 03, 2002
    The Sunday Times

    Suckers for extreme fun
    Special carts and head controls are giving the disabled off-road thrills, writes Alistair Weaver

    Eight years ago Chris Asten was paralysed from the neck down by an accident at work. "I can shrug my shoulders but that's about it, so most of the things I do are passive," he says. "When they said I'd be able to drive by myself, I thought they were joking, but on my second visit I drove through the woods and was away for three hours."

    Asten's enthusiasm is matched only by his sense of achievement. The opportunity to drive was provided by X-treme Disabled Motorsport (XDM), a non-profit organisation that offers off-roading for disabled people. Based at a 400-acre estate near Betws-y-Coed, north Wales, XDM uses three Woodstar ATCs (all-terrain carts). Developed in Sweden for the physically impaired, they have simple hand or wrist controls for drivers with limited use of their upper body, but developing a control system for tetraplegics such as Asten required lateral thinking. Woodstar's solution is a bespoke head-steer system.

    The driver is strapped in and a tube is fed through the helmet and into their mouth. Suck on the tube to accelerate, blow to brake. The harder you suck, the faster you go. Steering is by a simple mechanical link between helmet and steering column: the driver tips their head to the left or right to turn.

    Instructor Steve Bird can empathise with his clients. He taught the SAS quad-biking and off-road skills until a paragliding accident last January, in which he plunged 80ft to the ground, paralysed his lower limbs. Bird spent February in a coma but eight months later we're chasing the Woodstars across the fields in his Ford Maverick. "You either stare at the hospital ceiling or you get out and do something," he says, matter-of-factly.

    Bird now runs XDM with Stuart Dunne, a paraplegic. They work on a voluntary basis but Bird will go full-time if they can find the funding.

    A comprehensive safety package offers drivers reassurance and Dunne "won't ask them to do anything that's beyond them".

    It's impossible not to admire the spirit of these men splashing about in the Welsh mud. With few resources beyond borrowed fields and raw enthusiasm, Bird and Dunne offer a unique experience whose value cannot be underestimated.

    XDM: 0151 346 2312

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...466137,00.html

  2. #2
    Thanks Seneca, cool stuff. I wish the U.S. had something like this.

    Maybe its my imagination but it always seems like the Europeans are ahead of us in terms of opportunities / progress for the disabled.

    Onward and Upward!

  3. #3
    Junior Member louise's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Cairns, Queensland,Australia
    Posts
    25

    special carts

    Way to go man.........just to get out of the
    chair and into the woods under your own steam
    what a buz, keep rollin

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