Joystick Use for Virtual Power Wheelchair Driving in Individuals with Tremor

Claire Kimmich1,4 ; Sara Sibenaller2,4 ; Brad E. Dicianno, MD2,3,4
1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia
2 Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh
3 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
4 Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Highland Drive VA Medical Center, Pittsburgh PA


People with disabilities such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease have difficulty operating conventional movement sensing joysticks (MSJs) due to varying levels of tremor. Researchers at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) developed an isometric joystick (IJ) that has performed as well as a conventional MSJ when used by those with upper limb impairments in real and virtual driving tasks. The Weighted-frequency Fourier Linear Combiner (WFLC) filter has been used to cancel tremor effectively in microsurgery. The purpose of this study was to compare an MSJ, IJ, and IJ with the WFLC filter in individuals with tremor operating a virtual driving game. Although the filtering system did not improve driving performance in this study, the IJ without filter yielded better results than the conventional MSJ and thus may be a potential alternative to the MSJ to minimize the effects of tremor.


Wheelchairs, Computer-user Interface, Isometric Joystick, Parkinson’s Disease, Tremor