by TOM THOMPSON, Charlotte, North Carolina
The first time I ever saw a Segway I immediately recognized it as something that could possibly help my mobility. My FSHD had progressed to the point where I was having difficulty walking.
At my first opportunity I went to a Segway dealership to try one. It was an amazing machine, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t ride it very far without getting tired due to the fact that it is designed to be operated only while standing. If only it had a seat!
I began to think about how I could make a seat that I could adapt to a Segway. I tried finding a local person or company that could help me fabricate one but without any success.
One day a thought came into my head: Maybe someone already has created a seat. I googled “seat for Segway” and was surprised to find three or four different seats. After some research and phone calls, I decided to purchase a Segway and order one of the seats.
The seat I ordered turned out to be the correct choice. I found that the way it works is that it hacks the Segway control system, causing it to think a rider is standing on it. Over the next few months I was able to develop a system that allowed me to use the Segway safely.
I have now used my Segway for over 10 years, and it has allowed me to do things that I never would have been able to do otherwise. A Segway has much more maneuverability and versatility than a scooter or wheelchair, and the most amazing thing about it is the reaction it creates in those who see me on it. It diminishes the effects of my disability to a great extent.
I must caution anyone who may be interested to understand that there are some dangers in using a Segway in this way. The Segway company does not build seats or recommend that a Segway be used with one. Many professional medical personnel will see me riding it and say something like “That looks dangerous,” but also many have reacted with “Wow! What a great idea!”
I choose to use it the way I do, knowing the potential hazards, because it is functional, exhilarating, and liberating in much the same way as riding a motorcycle or flying an airplane would be.
Editor’s note: The FSH Society does not endorse or recommend any specific inventions. Readers who choose to try these ideas out do so at their own risk.