Kris Compares the Stingray and Panther handles!
Kristopher MN, USA
Background: I will be turning 29 this month. My primary diagnosis is paraplegia. Initially I used only a manual wheelchair but spine pain, a prior fracture to my left shoulder along with numbness in my hands caused me to start using a power wheelchair almost full time and a manual chair when I am unable to use my power wheelchair. I work 10-12 hours a day, I am a full time Masters student, and I am involved in volunteer work that is very physical in nature. During the trial I drove my wheelchair to work 1.4 miles away, used my chair all day, and then drove 1.4 miles back home on uneven sidewalk surfaces.
Previous Joysticks: I initially used a standard cap on my joystick. I moved to using the ergo joystick Stingray version (pictured on the right – white) about 1 1/2 years ago. I participated in beta testing the Panther version (Purple) for three weeks. For the purpose of this review I will be comparing my Stingray (White) to the new Panther (Purple).
Aesthetics: I love the way that the ergo joysticks look on my chair and they are often conversation starters. The stingray and the panther look very similar with the only major difference being the base of the joystick. My stingray was white and I learned quickly that it would pick up everything off of my hands which made it hard to keep clean. For the panther I decided to go with purple and I couldn’t be happier. The purple color is very vibrant and still visible in the dark. I have an all black chair so my handle have some color really makes it pop and allows me to have a little biti of personality on my chair without sacrificing professionalism.
Fit : Both handles were ordered as the same size. As you can see in the comparison photos above, the panther (purple) has a much better fit for smaller hands than the stingray (white) did. Both handle bases have a snug fit on my controls but not so snug that I can’t get them off if needed. As for installing, they were both the same and I was able to complete independently but some may need assistance with getting the control on if they lack finer motor skills as you have to line up the stick and the hole for the joystick.
Comfort: Hands down both of these handles are significantly more comfortable than a standard joystick. Due to the improved fit and a slight change on the shape of the panther makes it even more comfortable. The flexibility of the panther over the stingray is more comfortable for long distance and uneven surfaces than the stingray which is a very stiff handle.
Learning Curve: When I initially moved to the stingray I was able to put it on and was immediately comfortable and confident with the handle because it is stiff like the standard joystick cover. With the panther it did take me about an hour with the joystick to get used to the flexibility in the joystick because I have never had a joystick that had flexibility so the sensitivity was different than I was used to. For someone that is coming over from a standard goal post or other similar joystick handle that is stiff may take additional time to adjust.
Impressions: I have a lot more control of my chair when using an ergo joystick. With both handles they are sensitive to my movements and are easy to turn and stop suddenly. I feel confident in my control of my chair with the ergo joysticks, which I did not feel with a standard joystick. The flexibility of the panther (purple) base is beneficial to me when dealing with spasms because the flexibility reduce unintended movements. While driving on uneven surfaces I dealt with less fatigue when using the panther over the stingray as the handle flexed when going over bumps. The panther sits slightly lower than the stingray. I utilize a swing away joystick which I ALWAYS use when pulling up to a table or desk to ensure that I don’t accidently catch my handle which only took one time of a wild ride to pay attention to.
Affordability: The stingray is 80.00 USD while the panther is 90.00. I find that for medical equipment, this is very affordable. I personally chose the ergo joystick initially because I liked the customization but also because of price and the fact that I was supporting a small business with an owner who has a disability rather than a CEO making six figures off of my disability.
Overall: I switched back to my stingray from the panther for a few days before completing my review to ensure that I could identify the differences. I was definitely disappointed when I left the panther on the counter before heading out to work for the day. The stingray was a great handle but the panther is an incredible handle in my opinion. The aesthetics, affordability, safety, and comfort have made me an ergo joystick user for life. Some may be more comfortable with the stiffness of the stingray at the beginning but I believe once getting used to the panther that it is a more comfortable handle.