Originally created 02/20/03

Statesboro man invents gizmo to lift and lower toilet seats



STATESBORO, Ga. -- Four years ago, when his mother couldn't bend over to lower the toilet seat, Emory Jones sprang into action.

First, he put the seat down for her. Then he began work on a tool to help people with similar dilemmas, a gizmo to assist them in raising and lowering the lid.

Jones named his invention the "Courtesy Wand," and once it's manufactured, it will sell for $19.95.

"You really have to use it to appreciate it," Jones said.

His mother was recovering from triple bypass surgery when she had her encounter with the toilet, so when she yelled for his help, Jones feared she had suffered a heart attack.

That wasn't her problem.

"Mama was holding the hand rail, and asked, 'Would you please put this dang seat down for me?"' Jones said.

The wand is a contoured rod with a hook for the lid on one end and a handle on the other. It might look simple, but Jones struggled with several variations before settling on the final version.

"You ought to see some of the crude drawings I first came up with," he said.

He also had to study a list of patents to make sure someone hadn't beaten him to the idea. Last fall, he went to the Med Trade Show in Atlanta, and happily saw nothing similar to his invention. Most of the toilet-seat helpers are activated with a pedal, and Jones said those aren't always feasible.

"Some people can't lift their legs, and a foot-activated one wouldn't last in a public facility," he said.

At least one health care facility near his home in southeastern Georgia is anxious to try the product.

"We have a lot of fractured hips in here and I think something like this would be reasonable," said Sheila Wilson, director of nursing for Statesboro Nursing Home. "Some people just can't get down that low."

The wand has a more practical use, too. During his research, Jones discovered a warning from the American Medical Association, which suggested five consecutive hand washings are needed to get rid of the germs after touching a toilet seat. So he developed a model strictly for public rest rooms.

Either way, he's confident there will be a market for his invention.

"Women's number one gripe is that men leave the toilet seat up," Jones said.