Dynamic Controls Gimbal Options
Joystick Gimbal Knob Options
The gimbal of a power wheelchair joystick is the part the user's hand or fingers move to tell the wheelchair how fast and which direction to go. The knob of the gimbal is available in several designs to provide the user with the most functional grip possible.
While there is often the opportunity to choose the best gimbal knob when ordering a power wheelchair sometimes the best option isn't available from the manufacturer and an aftermarket Gimbal knob needs to be ordered.
In cases where the user's condition changes over time and a different gimbal knob would work better, ordering and installing a new gimbal knob is not usually very expensive or difficult.
Below is a selection of the various gimbal knobs available and a short rational for the use of each one. Because every user is different and often have different needs the uses of these gimbal knobs may vary from the described use. What is important is that there are options and the user finds the best one to suit their needs however they want to use them.
Standard Gimbal Knobs
Depending on the make of the power wheelchair, the gimbal knob that comes standard on the joystick will likely be a small round plastic ball about 1" in diameter, a straight sided rounded knob about 1" long or a 1" wedge shaped plastic knob (sometimes referred to as a carrot knob) with a flat top.
Round T-Bar Gimbal Knob
For people who are unable to grip the standard gimbal knobs the round T-Bar is often the answer. It is usually manufactured from sections of steel bars about 3/8" diameter and between 3" and 4" long. Normally the round bar is mounted at 90° to the user's arm but it can be mounted at an angle if needed.
Gimbal Chin Cup
Chin cups for joysticks are usually only used by people who drive their wheelchair with their chin using a compact or remote joystick mounted on an midline joystick mount but I have seen cases where the user will use them on standard joysticks in a conventional position. The users who would use a chin cup on an conventional mount will usually use a finger on the chin cup to move the gimbal. The shape of the cup makes it easier to control the gimbal with a single finger.
Finger Tube Gimbal Knob
The finger tube gimbal knob is used for those who use a single finger to drive the wheelchair. By placing the user's finger inside the finger tube the user will have better control than using a single finger on a standard gimbal knob. By using a single finger for driving, moving of the entire hand is often not needed and helpful for people who can't move their lower arms or hands easily.
Straight Bar Gimbal Knob
The straight bar gimbal knob is another option for those who have difficulty in moving their lower arm and hand but can still use their fingers. With the straight bar gimbal knob the user can rest the side of their hand on the joystick housing and drive the wheelchair with their thumb and finger.
Wrist Plate Gimbal Knob
The wrist plate gimbal is similar to the T-Bar but is a flat steel bar that is elevated at the ends and is designed to cradle the user's wrist. This gimbal knob option is primarily used by people who do not have very good use of their fingers but can move their lower arms efficiently and accurately to drive the power wheelchair.
Flat T-Bar Gimbal
The flat t-bar is a cross between the round t-bar and the wrist plate. It offers the user the choice of how they want to control the wheelchair from day to day without having to change knobs. The flat bar is comfortable enough to rest a wrist on, although without the raised tips for added support, yet still useable with the fingers.
Golf Ball Gimbal Knob
The golf ball gimbal knob is a larger round knob that the standard round knob available as standard equipment on some power wheelchairs. For people who prefer a larger knob than the standard round gimbal knob the golf ball knob offers better control because of the larger size. As an added bonus the dimples on the ball also make it easier to grip and control.
Sponge Ball Gimbal Knob
The sponge ball gimbal knob is an even larger round knob than the golf ball knob the standard round knob available as standard equipment on some power wheelchairs. This is a relatively soft ball that is very easy to get a good grip on when driving the power wheelchair.