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When someone gets in to drive a new car, he or she is likely to immediately adjust the steering wheel, changing the angle and distance to suit his or her needs.

The same process occurs with powerchair joysticks; however, while car steering wheel adjustments are universal, powerchair joysticks are ordered to specific applications, and it's important to understand the technology and applications to best meet the user's needs.

Basic Mounts
Basic joystick mounts are available in two configurations, bolt-in-place, and quick-release.  Bolt-on mounts secured via hardware, requiring a wrench for adjustment and joystick removal.  A quick-release mount features a release lever that allows for rapid adjustment and joystick release.  As far as durability, both mounts are equally strong toward retaining the joystick, and the only real difference is that a bolt-on mount is typically slimmer than a quick-release mount, as it doesn't require a release lever.

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Swing-Away Mounts
As the name suggests, swing-away joystick mounts swing-away - or, more aptly, swing to the side, then rearward - moving the joystick away from in front of the armrest, allowing one to get closer to tables and desks.  Swing-away mounts are an upcharge on most powerchairs, but are funded by many insurers.  While swing-away mounts are very functional for most users, those with notable spasms or tone, or those who rely heavily on their joystick to stabilize their hand while operating the powerchair may wish to avoid swing-away mounts, as they are designed to swing away under force, and can feel unstable to such users.

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Multi-Axis Mounts
A multi-axis joystick mount allows a joystick to be perminintly mounted within an approximate 2" range in height, sidewards offset, and sidewards angle for those with complex hand positioning needs.  For example, if one needs a joystick located on the inside of the armrest, tilted at a 20-degree sidewards angle, a multi-axis mount allows such a position.  Beyond those needing exceptional positioning possibilities, a multi-axis mount isn't needed by most users.

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Mid-Line Mounts
Mid-line joystick mounts locate a joystick directly over ones lap, typically centered between the armrests, for those with limited ranges of motion. For user transfers, the joystick swings to the side.

A joystick truly is one's interface with a powerchair, and matching the right joystick to the right needs can increase function, comfort, and independence.

Published 9/07, Copyright 2007, WheelchairJunkie.com