Published 6/04, Copyright 2004,

Lock It Up
A WheelchairJunkie's Guide to Powerchair Security

-Mark E. Smith

Whether you're a full- or part-time powerchair user, there're probably times when you wish to secure your powerchair.  Maybe you don't want your grandchildren powering-up your powerchair when you're not around.  Or, maybe you're a roller coaster fanatic, leaving your powerchair unattended while riding Millennium Force or Medusa.  In any case, securing your powerchair to prevent others from driving away with your wheels may be vital.  Fortunately, from light-rehab powerchairs to high-end rigs, security systems are now standard on most powerchairs, and optional on others, ensuring that the only one using your powerchair is you.

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The VSI controller is the most common joystick shipping today on light-rehab powerchairs, and it features a built-in joystick security lock.  To lock a VSI, follow three steps:
1. With the power on, hold down the power button till it chirps, then release.
2. Promptly push the joystick forward till it chirps.
3. Pull the joystick back until it chirps
The joystick is then locked.  To unlock the joystick, follow the same process, turning the powerchair on, then continue with steps 1 through 3.

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The Remote+ system (also known as Q-Tronics on Quickie brand powerchairs), is available with an optional key-type locking system.  To lock the system, you plug in the key into the joystick's charging/programming port, then promptly remove the key.  To unlock the system, you plug, then unplug the key, as well.  Essentially, the key places the system in inhibit, rendering the powerchair's joystick unresponsive.  Unlike the VSI's standard locking feature, a key for the Remote+ system is optional, costing around $50 from most providers.

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Dynamic G80
The Dynamic G80 comes standard with a magnetic lockout function.  On the joystick housing, there's a key icon, and by running the supplied magnetic key over it, the powerchair is locked or unlocked accordingly.

Simple but Savvy
Maybe you don't have a modern controller, or don't wish to buy an optional key, but still need to secure your powerchair once in a while.  Sometimes simple means is the surest means, and discretely unplugging a cable may do the trick.  An unplugged joystick cable or battery harness can baffle even the sharpest powerchair user, not to mention one who's entirely unfamiliar with the technology, so merely pulling a plug will thwart even the most thrifty thieves (on the Remote+, for example, you can unplug the cable from the joystick, but still have the connector resting in the socket, so all looks normal).

One would hope that all would honor the sanctity of our wheelchairs.  But, the fact is, we live in a wacky world.  The next time you park your powerchair in the garage, or leave it on the gangway at an amusement park - or wherever you may leave your powerchair unattended - don't forget to enter the code, use the key, or unplug a cable.  After all, you want your wheels staying where you left them.

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