Machining.. with epilepsy

Discussion in 'Machining with Disabilities' started by syrtismajor, May 21, 2013.

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  1. May 21, 2013 #1

    syrtismajor

    syrtismajor

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    Hello all!
    This is a bit of an odd question but I am hoping for some kind of positive answer.
    Last year after a sudden seizure and brain surgery I was diagnosed with epilepsy (thankfully non-photosensitive). Thankfully I'm okay and have lost nothing at all (other than 25 cubic cm of grey matter :eek:).
    The problem is the potential of giving up model engineering as a result since I cannot control my seizures (three in 12 months so they're not that frequent). The thought of having one whilst on my lathe isn't one I want to consider. It's bad enough waking up on the floor let alone doing so while suddenly missing a body part...
    Basically my question is simply; is there some kind of 'kill switch' I can buy or create to cut all power to my tools upon the onset of a seizure?
    I've thought about this a lot and can only come up with a 'foot paddle' that has to remain pressed to allow power to my tools. The problem is that I cannot guarantee that this will work since seizures are inherently unpredictable in their effect on the body.
    Does anybody on these forums have such a condition or know someone that has and have found a way to overcome this? I dread the idea of letting this addiction go because of something so basic so any help or suggestion would be fantastic.
    I'm hoping for an positive answer more for the peace of mind of my partner. I've already scared her enough over the past year with an excess of medical visits and both of us don't want another!
     
  2. May 22, 2013 #2

    Goldflash

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    A dead man footplate switch as found on some ride up forklifts might be the way to go. but it would have to be set up so you can't fall on it so placing it slightly under the lathe stand might etc, might be the way to go.
    I am really sorry to hear of your predicament.
     
  3. May 22, 2013 #3

    enfieldbullet

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    reverse treadmill switch?

    if you get too close to the lathe it turns it off. that way if you fall face on the lathe it won't be too bad.

    also consider wearing a helmet, no joke, lots of hard surfaces.

    maybe small machines also, a mini-lathe is less dangerous than a full size.

    sorry to hear about your problem, but don't think it must limit you too much, plenty of people with the same problem who are ok. and as you said, you're not having seizures very frequently.
     
  4. May 22, 2013 #4

    enfieldbullet

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    ah, also consider CNC. you can just sit back and watch the part get made safely.

    or some kind of remote control.
     
  5. May 22, 2013 #5

    Tin Falcon

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    First of all I will say I have no idea of how seizures affect people.
    second try to think and position yourself that if you fall it is not and the machine.
    Here is my thought set up a knee operated momentary contact dead man switch in series with a magnetic contact switch . I think that it is what it is called these switches are used in industrial shops to prevent machines from automatically starting after power interruption .

    so here is how it works you place your knee on the switch then the start button . the machine starts. take your knee of the switch the machine stops. the machine will not start again until the start button is pressed and your knee is on the DM switch.
    you could use the same setup for a foot switch if you like.

    Tin
     
  6. May 22, 2013 #6

    Brian Rupnow

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    I have seen people have a Grand Mal seizure. If you want to go on living, I suggest you give up machining as a hobby.
     
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  7. May 22, 2013 #7

    aonemarine

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    I'm kinda thinking of a safety guard that will keep you out of the machines workings, that must be pulled back to operate the equipment. Don't quit!! That's the main thing. If you quit, youve lost.
     
  8. May 22, 2013 #8

    Tin Falcon

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    I would not suggest anyone quit what they love. Are you alone I would suggest you not machine alone have someone that can call 911 if needed.

    machine guards are another good idea.
    Tin
     
  9. May 22, 2013 #9

    aarggh

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    I've had first hand and second hand experience with that, and I would see the major problem depending on the severity or character of your case, to be the involuntary throwing of the arms in close proximity to the workpiece/chuck.A simple polycarb shield that allows you to access machining the work, while essentially protecting you if you tilted forwards/sideways or if your arms were flung out would be a good consideration.

    As others mentioned though, a dead mans switch would be essential, but would have to be sized and placed so the chance of keeping it powered while having a seizure is minimal. The problem with a lot of seizures is that it's not like flicking a switch as a lot of people have come to perceive through media, quite often it's a stupor that just worsens, in which case you may not fall, but in fact keep more or less still but with a lack of control or comprehension of time, and surroundings. This is where you can't just assume a seizure will cause you in every case to simply "fall away" or "let go".

    cheers, Ian
     
  10. May 22, 2013 #10

    aonemarine

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    I bad about not fully explaining things, so ill continue a bit. Safety guard that must be pulled back and held back in order for the machined to run. That way if you were to "loose it" and go forward to the machine it would stop and the guard would keep you out of the workings. Chances are going backwards you would let go of the guard, shutting down the machine as well. Think I would avoid table saws though... Hey they have that saw stop thing on the new table saws, wonder if it could be reversing engineered to mills and lathes?
     
  11. May 22, 2013 #11

    aarggh

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    Some people can have the condition and only rarely have a seizure, and there are all sorts of degrees of seizures as well. If it's not too bad a category, I see no reason to give up a hobby. It just restricts the way you go about things to improve the safety. For example things like automation (auto-feed comes to mind) are generally not a good idea unless they have built in safeguards (limit switches) and don't require you in immediate proximity, in case of seizures.

    cheers, Ian
     
  12. May 22, 2013 #12

    aarggh

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    The problem here though is that having a seizure doesn't always ( in fact can be rarely) mean cleanly falling backwards/forwards in the first instance.

    cheers, Ian
     
  13. May 22, 2013 #13

    aonemarine

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    Im not suggestion he is going to fall in any specific direction. The guard would keep him from going into the machine and a safety switch on the guard would insure he is standing there.
    Lets face it, he could have an attack any place any time. The main thing is to reduce the risk of injury while working in the shop.
     
  14. May 22, 2013 #14

    jwcnc1911

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    Hate to hear about your health problems. I personally can not speak from any experience but I hope you don't give up. I definitely do not want you to put yourself in a position to be hurt. Many options to consider. First I ditto that "don't machine alone" comment. Not only for you, but for every one. Not always possible for the hobbyist but always a good practice. Second, find equipment with automatic spindle breaks so the spindle stops when your newly wired deadman switch lets go.

    Above all else, don't give up something you love. You'll never fill the void. Now that I have experience with. Think how much sweeter it will be when you spend time you thought lost leaning over a lathe.
     
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  15. May 22, 2013 #15

    MachineTom

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    While I have uncontrollable spasms from time to time, I often get about 1-2 sec feeling that something is about to happen. And can often put down a coffee cup without covering the room with hot coffee.

    I had a customer with epilepsy who rode a motor scooter (likely illegal was my guess) the bike was crashed many times. He told me that he could tell when a seizure was coming and just headed for the curb, he had been riding like this for years. He had lots of scrapes and bumps but no serious injuries.

    Since you are only now beginning to have seizures, talk to others that have had the condition for some time, likely they can give you clues of what they feel in the seconds before the seizures grabs on.

    For me I would rig a momentary button in such a way that it would have to be held down with light pressure to keep the machine running. A contactor on the feed power line, line voltage coils, and a momentary switch is all that is needed to make that happen.
     
  16. May 22, 2013 #16

    Till

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    Hello,

    My brother has epilepsy since childhood, caused on rare occasions by activity of scarred brain tissue after a virus infection of the brain. He takes drugs agains it, but seizures still occur about 4-5times a year (eg. when intestinal infections interfere with the absorption of the drugs).
    I don't know how your epileptic seizures take effect, but I guess that your seizures are somewhat similar because the cause is somewhat similar (damaged brain tissue).
    The few seconds before my brother totally loses control, he loses orientation and the ability to think clearly and he does very weired things. Such as grabbing random things with the hands, performing strange movements, articulating strange sylables, staggering. Then he falls down in a random direction losing conciousness, sometimes trying to grab something in the way he's falling. This is when the epilepsy fully takes over.

    He usually falls in the direction he is heading, so if your bend over a lathe, you will perform unaware physical actions and interaction with the things around you (the rotating lathe chuck!! Automatic feed!!)) until you collapse into the running machine.

    I think a fully enclosured lathe with cnc operation is the only save way. A fully enclosured lathe with a remote electronic handwheel to control the movements manually might be an option, too.

     
  17. May 22, 2013 #17

    ddmckee54

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    syrtismajor:

    I'd say welcome to the club of epileptic machinists, but I know you'd rather not belong to this particular club. I've was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 12. I'm lucky, my seizures have been controlled for over 30 years. I was also lucky in that I had an aura, that is I had a warning 30-60 seconds before I had a seizure. If you've only had 3 seizures in 12 months, you might not be able to remember what happened right before your seizure, so you may not know if you had/have an aura. If you haven't been told about an aura, ask your neurologist, he/she can tell you what it is and maybe what to look for. Mine was a light headed feeling.

    If you have an aura, a deadman switch would probably work for you. When the aura occurs, hit the kill switch and sit your butt down on the floor as far away from everything as possible. If it's a false alarm, well - it's easier to replace a part than a finger.

    If you don't have an aura and don't want to give up this hobby, then invest in extensive machine guarding. Cover everything that moves with a heavy duty locking cover and use those covers religously. I'd say use the OHSA standards for machine guarding but you're in the wrong side of the pond. I'd also avoid power feeds that don't stop automatically. CNC is a good idea, you'd still need the guards to keep you out of the works though.

    Hang in there, it was many medication changes and many years before they got my seizures completely under control. On a brighter note, neurologists have a lot more tools available to them now than they did 45 years ago when I was in the position where you are now. Now I take my meds twice a day, I see my neurologist once a year, and don't give my epilepsy another thought.

    Don
     
  18. May 23, 2013 #18

    Jon

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    As another hobbyist with a history of seizures, I'll add my two cents worth. You'll obviously be the safest if you stay out of the shop for a while. Failing that, only work with supervision. Also, whatever your doctors told you about driving should also be applied to machining.

    With all that said, it's important to remember that epilepsy is a disease that is easily controlled with medication. It may take a few tries to find one that works for you. My doctor told me there is no test, you just have to try different meds until you stop having seizures. Just remember that there are plenty of people with epilepsy leading otherwise normal lives. You will get there, it just takes time.

    Jon
     
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  19. May 23, 2013 #19

    ShopShoe

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    syrtismajor,

    FWIW,

    I used to work in an educational setting and there were people with titles like Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and Assistive Technology Specialist who would search the world to find solutions to allow their clients to accomplish their goals. I occasionally got involved myself in helping design modifications to existing technology in order to make these things happen.

    Perhaps there are resources you can find near you to find these wonderful and talented individuals. There are support groups for many things near me, but no clear network to find them: It took over two years to find a group for relatives that addresses a condition that affects many people in my family. Keep up hope and keep looking for help.

    For a short answer, I would agree that CNC would probably be best, possibly combined with downsizing to small projects.

    --ShopShoe
     
  20. May 24, 2013 #20

    DavidDonC

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    A different approach may be to get a seizure dog. These dogs can be trained to detect the
    onset of seizures and alert an individual before the seizure occurs. This would be beneficial in the shop and all aspects of your daily life. Dogs can smell a chemical change in the body prior to a seizure. Might be worth looking into.
     

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