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Wheelchair Sweeper Attachment for Custodian (Brett)

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Brett has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy with spastic diplegia, mild MR with behavior disorder, neurogenic bladder, speech articulation defect, dysphasia w/gastronomy tube placement, H/O aspiration, seborrheic dermatitis, haital hernia w/reflux, bronchospasms, and adjustment disorder with disturbance in conduct. Brett has an IQ of 66. He has no use of either leg or right arm. He has less than 1' range of motion in left arm and little or no independent finger usage. Brett loves to be helpful and loves to be around people. He has good vision and is a careful scooter driver.

Brett needed a job coach to do any work as he could not work independently. He typically produced with an output of < 2% of standard. He did not make appreciable pay and had no funding for a job coach.

For a short time in the past, Brett had a vacuum attached to his scooter. He cleaned the floors of a wood and metal shop. Since the vacuum had to be attached to power, his job coach had to follow him around to keep reattaching him as he moved from place to place. However, the vacuum kept clogging and the job coach had to follow him around to unclog it. Brett lost his funding for a job coach.

The challenge is to get Brett working as productively and independently as possible -hopefully around people. There needed to be a better way to enable him to keep the wood and metal shop floor clean.


Scooter with attached industrial sweeper
Scooter with attached industrial sweeper
Industrial sweeper attachment
Industrial sweeper attachment

Connect an industrial sweeper to his scooter. The sweeper must be powered to work independent of the electrical cord. It must allow good vision (not too high) and have a large enough dust bin to work without frequent emptying. It must not clog with the big chunks found on the shop floor. It must be light and maneuverable to compatible with the scooter and not create undo stress. It must connect and disconnect easily with Brett's scooter.

The selected sweeper was a Windsor Industries Radius 24, but need some modification. This sweeper was relatively light, battery powered with enough battery life to finish the job. It is industrial which means it doesn't clog and has a good dustbin capacity. It is also low enough for Brett to see over.

The sweeper was connected to the scooter with aluminum bar stock. One end has a machined slot to fit over front scooter caster swivel. There is a plate on the sweeper frame to accept attachment bolt. The bar stock swings up and out of the way. Swivel casters replace rear wheels on the sweeper to facilitate turning and take weight off scooter connection. The scooter attachment was machined to fit over the front caster swivels of the scooter and drops on and lifts off. It is simple for anyone to help or operate.

We thought we would need to rewire the controls so they could be reached, but we got lucky. Once the unit was attached, the controls were within his range of motion for his left hand. We wish we could empty the hopper without detaching the unit from the scooter, but it is not too bad because the hopper only needs emptying once per day. Even better would be to figure out a simple way for Brett to empty it and to find a way that Brett could attach and detach the sweeper without assistance. That would be expensive to implement. Fortunately, he only needs to attach or detach once per shift.

Brett is very happy in his new job. He cleans the shop 3 times per day. He can go very fast so he can clean the shop in one hour, but he goes slow because he does not like to run out of work. We would love to find him some more work. In the future, we would love to work with sweeper, scrubber, lawn mower, etc. manufacturers to develop simple ways to fit a host of riding implements for joystick control and adequate seating.


Paul Nishman and Kevin Ryan

Rehabilitation Engineer


Government Affairs and Workforce Development