Steve often mentioned that it would be nice to have a lap tray for his electric wheelchair…something he could use to write on or as a table to eat off of. When I did a search for wheelchair lap trays, the only reasonable ones I could find were for manual wheelchairs, but nothing suitable for his sleek Pride Jazzy electric.
Some of the obstacles I encountered when looking for a tray was how to attach it to the wheelchair and how to make it clear the joystick, yet keep it large enough to be functional. There were lap trays that had straps to attach it to the arm rests, but they were expensive and they couldn’t swing out of the way.
So I contacted my cousin, Jeff, who does some woodworking as a hobby. I explained our dilemma and asked him if he could design something that would work. He was more than eager to help and came over to take some measurements. Several weeks later, Jeff made a prototype and some more adjustments. The finished product was a very sturdy, functional, and lightweight tray.
The key to making the lap tray work on an electric wheelchair is a bracket that had been originally installed for a leg rest when I bought the chair. I thought Steve might need a leg rest to extend his left leg like he had on his manual wheelchair. He didn’t need it after all, but I kept the bracket on. This is where the rod of the tray fits into. From there it pivots so Steve can move the tray out of the way when he gets out of the wheelchair.
Jeff reinforced the underside of the tray with blocking to give it stability and strength. The tray is easily removable, so I can put it into the truck to take along wherever we go. Another handy feature is an extension of the rod that goes above the tray. It kind of looks like a hot dog sticking out of the top, but that’s where Steve fits the hand piece of his arm sling onto so his arm won’t fall off to the side. The diameter of the rod fits perfectly inside the hand piece just like Jeff planned.
Another side-benefit of having a lightweight removable lap tray is when we get food at a fast food restaurant and eat in the truck. I position the tray right over Steve’s lap and slide his hand piece over the rod to hold the tray in place so he can eat more comfortably. It works perfectly, and for the cost of $25 we got a wonderful piece of equipment.
Watch the short video below to see how the electric wheelchair lap tray works.