Success Stories

Eye gaze control of recliner chair

In a world first, Thrive Allied Health occupational therapist Fiona Neagle has worked with NDIS participant Glenn Walker and a global support team to achieve full eye-gaze control of a La-Z-Boy four motor lift recliner chair.

Based in Gympie, Queensland, Fiona and Glenn have been working over the past several months on Glenn’s goal to operate his La-Z-Boy power lift recliner chair independently.

Glenn has Motor Neurone Disease, a progressive neuromuscular disorder that affects his ability to use his muscles. Glenn is unable to use his arms or hands for any activity. His wife Sue Walker provides Glenn with assistance with all daily activities.

Glenn already uses a computer to successfully operate his TV, email, internet and power wheelchair. These are operated through use of eye-gaze control, supplied by Link Assistive in Adelaide. Glenn is able to look at the screen to select items and a camera tracks his eye movements on the screen, rather than using a mouse or touch screen.

Glenn’s La-Z-Boy electric lift recliner chair comes with a standard remote control handset supplied by his local retailer Davies Furniture Court Gympie. Glenn was unable to use the buttons on the chair’s remote control handset. His goal was to be able to operate the chair functions including recline and lift to help him stand up independently.

Fiona requested assistance from James Dean at Technical Solutions in Melbourne This company designs alternative access methods and wide range of electronic equipment for people with disabilities all over Australia.

James designed a world-first eye-gaze operated scanning controller for the La-Z-Boy chair. Whilst controllers for some lift chairs are available, this is the first time a controller has been developed specifically for the four motor La-Z-Boy chair anywhere in the world. It uses infrared to convert the eye gaze input into signals the chair can understand.

Service and Product Quality Improvement Manager, Glen Stevens from La-Z-Boy Australia provided a full set of electrics for James to test his design. “The test set of controls and motors La-Z-Boy made available was essential to this project. We’re very grateful for their unhesitating assistance,” Mr Dean said.

Mark and Linda Tunstall, owners of Davies Furniture Court Gympie assisted Glenn with a range of spare parts, and are thrilled with the result.

Smartbox Assistive Technology Tom Fawlk and Adam Marschall, software AT support specialists based in the United Kingdom, provided Grid 3 software support.

Glenn proudly states, “The development of this software and hardware for my La-Z-Boy chair has now given me more independence due to being able to control my chair’s movements through my eye gaze system. I no longer have to depend on my carers to raise, lower or adjust the chair.”

An amazing global collaboration and a great result for Glenn who now independently operates his lift chair whenever he wants.

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