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Old 06-18-2009, 11:29 PM   #1
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Default Input needed: Cripple aid for a manual tranny.

Here is the situation. My best friend had a freak accident about a month ago. He was at a party and walked away from the noise to make a phone call. On his way back in he stubbed his toe and fell hard on his beer bottle. Well, the bottle broke and severed an artery and his main motor nerve to his right hand. Its the funny bone nerve whatever its called. He lost 6 pints of blood and is lucky as hell to be alive. Here is the issue...

He drives a Civic SI and can just barely shift gears. His fingers just dont work anymore. He cannot grip the shifter well enough to actually row the gears. He said he cant even turn the radio up/down with his right hand anymore cause there just isn't enough strength to grip the ****. He's got a lot of recovery ahead of him. Poor bastard cant even beat off with his right hand anymore :(

Anyway, i've been thinking of a way to help him out. I want to make something that will make it easier for him to shift gears in his car. Here are his issues:

-He has a huge healing gash in the palm of his hand from the reconstructive surgery. This makes it very difficult for him to use his palm on the shifter due to extreme pain.
-Again, he doesn't have enough strength to actually grip the shift ****. He has to use his left hand to get it into 1st and 5th as a matter of fact. He says us uses a kind of fist to move to 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I forgot to ask about reverse.

I was thinking about a tennis ball attached to the shifter with some kind of glove sort of device with velcro he could put on his hand. Theory being that he could flop his hand down on the shifter and just use his arm to shift the gears.

The sad thing is this happend 3 days before his first autox :( He was so excited and looking forward to it. We had just put new suspension and various things in his car for the first event and this happens.

Anyway, input? Sound like it would be safe, etc? Better ideas?
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:41 PM   #2
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Wow. That truly sucks almost beyond compare. A few hours ago I'm typing about what a cool guy I am because I still have all my limbs intact despite throwing myself into the pavement off a motorcycle on several occasions, and this happens to your friend as a result of a friggin' beer bottle.

Can't really think of anything more clever than your velcro idea (apart from making sure that the glove has a velcro wrist closure, like a driving glove), though it occurs to me that this would be an excellent excuse to track down a RHD car.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 06-18-2009 at 11:55 PM. Reason: schpelling
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:45 PM   #3
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Wow. That truly sucks almost beyond compare. A few hours ago I'm typing about what a cool guy I am because I still have all my limbs intact despite throwing myself into the pavement off a motorcycle on several occasions, and this happens to your friend as a result of a friggin' beer bottle.

Can't really think of anything more clever than your velco idea (apart from making sure that the glove has a velcro wrist closure, like a driving glove), though it occurs to me that this would be an excellent excuse to track down a RHD car.
Yea, it sucks pretty bad. He's a big tough guy too and he's been turned instantly into a ***** unfortunately. Its eating away at him emotionally knowing that he may never have a good right hand again. Nerves are a tricky thing. He has a pretty good attitude about it so far, though. Thankfully.

Good call on the RHD car haha. Maybe after he pays off the 20g's in medical bills his insurance didn't cover he can track one down =P
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:02 AM   #4
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That is really unfortunate =(. Maybe a sequential shifter after the bills are paid.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:09 AM   #5
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Many years ago, I knew a fellow who was a quadriplegic with limited mobility in both arms and roughly zero grip strength in his hands. Young guy, too. Dove into a pond while on vacation with some friends. On the steering wheel, he had an attachment that was a sort of fork-like device into which the palm was inserted, and allowed the wheel to be operated without having to actually grip it. I wonder if such a device could be adapted as a shift ****? Here are a couple of examples:







Those are from this page, and googling for steering wheel aid and adaptive steering wheel (etc) turns up others as well:
Adaptacar - Steering Aids - Quadra-grip
Adaptive Devices
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:11 AM   #6
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Nerve damage is the worst, i remember when i ran a couple nails through my foot and severed a nerve there it took months for it to return feeling.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:17 AM   #7
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Joe, thats good stuff. I'll pass this along to him and see how he feels about it. Ultimately he will know what will work or not. I still haven't seen him since the accident and talked to him for the first time today.

What sucks the worst is that when I mentioned making something for him, I could just sense in his sudden change in tone and the defeat he is facing. Suddenly he is no longer capable of doing his day to day tasks and now needs artificial aids to help him out. This is a guy that used to be heavily into martial arts and computers. Now he cant through a punch and cannot type anymore.

I was just getting him into tuning cars and racing and now he cant turn a wrench or even shift gears. Really puts life into perspective.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:18 AM   #8
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You should make like a cast of his closed fist up to his wrist....fill it with plaster...then lay some carbon fiber or fiber glass over the plaster to make a shift **** adapter that could be attached to the shifter....this way, he places his closed fist into the adapter without pain from the gash but yet he can still have complete control over the shifter in all directions....dont ask how to go about doing this as I have never laid CF or fiberglass in my life....

Sorry to hear about his misfortune....a lot of people take what they have for granted, this is a sad reality check!
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:20 AM   #9
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You should make like a cast of his closed fist up to his wrist....fill it with plaster...then lay some carbon fiber or fiber glass over the plaster to make a shift **** adapter that could be attached to the shifter....this way, he places his closed fist into the adapter without pain from the gash but yet he can still have complete control over the shifter in all directions....dont ask how to go about doing this as I have never laid CF or fiberglass in my life....

Sorry to hear about his misfortune
Thanks for the input. A friend and I are pretty good with fiberglass and I've been thinking about something along these lines. I like where you're going with this and how awesome would it be to have yet another carbon fiber interior part available for civics =P
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:37 AM   #10
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Truly sorry to hear about your friend! All of the advice so far sounds good, I think so far the best idea involves velcro, so that a connection can be established quickly with the ****, but the hand can also be removed quickly if need be. Just an additional suggestion; consider adding some height to the lever if there's trouble getting it into gear, it'll lessen the amount of effort required to shift.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:47 AM   #11
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Alternately, imagine a device which, when viewed from the top, looks like this:



If you can get the shape and fit just right, it'd seem to me that this would allow easy side-to side movement, the force of upwards movement (1,3,5) would be borne by the knuckles (sparing the palm) and the force of downwards movement (2,4,R) would be borne by the insides of the fingers, which would be held in the fist-shape.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:54 AM   #12
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Great ideas guys.

Joe, that idea seems great until I imagine him pulling that down to 2,4,R. He has absolutely no strength in his fingers to hold the shifter like that. Unless something is bracing against the back of his hand/wrist I dont see that happening. Otherwise, its a great thought for every other gear and would work perfectly.

I'm drunk so forgive me if i'm saying the same thing twice. He uses his left hand for 1st and 5th, and to get into 3rd he kinda makes a fist and "punches" the shifter up into N, then straight up to 3rd.

For 2nd, he says he makes the same fist and somehow (still haven't figured out how) makes it down into 2nd from 1st. 3rd-2nd seems like a huge challenge to me based on what he's explained. Ditto for 5th-4th. I still have not figured out how he's doing R, must be left hand again.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:07 AM   #13
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Attach an extension to his wrist with a brace of some kind, then attach the end of the extension to the shifter with the same kinda fastener used on adjustable sway bar end links. Like imagine strapping a ruler to your wrist and attach the sway bar end link to the end of the ruler. Loop the end link onto the shifter without the ****, throw a nut onto the shifter to keep it in place.

This takes the hand completely out of the equation.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:12 AM   #14
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Joe, that idea seems great until I imagine him pulling that down to 2,4,R. He has absolutely no strength in his fingers to hold the shifter like that.
I'm not sure how it'd work in practice, but the concept was that the ring-shaped outer piece (which would have to come down and around further than in the crude drawing I made) is intended to hold the hand in a closed-fist shape when pulling downwards. Covering the peg in the middle with a grippy material (such as skateboard tape) would enhance this property. Same basic idea as the fitted casting, just easier to build and perhaps easier to get into and out of.

OTOH, maybe it won't work at all and the hand would just slip right out. Trying to toss out everything that floats through my mind.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:14 AM   #15
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See the veins in joe's right hand, he beat the meat like 2 min before coming up with that idea.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:22 AM   #16
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Not sure how much room there is forward of the shifter, but a couple alternate ideas:



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Old 06-19-2009, 01:23 AM   #17
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Joe, i'm thinking of your design with a sort of a base that had the velcro. Would kind of get the best of both worlds and it would be the perfect position for him I think. The more I look at your drawing the more I think it would work.
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:10 AM   #18
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Is trading the car in for an automatic out of the question? That seems like it would make his life infinitely more simple getting around from a to b. Especially if he hits traffic alot.
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:30 AM   #19
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Sorry to hear about that wayne. If you need any welding let me know. Engineering isnt really my department unfortunatley.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:21 AM   #20
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The question is, how much strength does he have in his wrist? If not much, he'll have to have a brace that locks his wrist to his arm.
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