Post by Lαrα on Jan 26, 2015 10:59:53 GMT -8
This article looks great and very useful, especially for those, like me who havent driven since their injury!
Q: Bert, what if I am a higher-level quadriplegic – can I drive again?
A: If you have arm function, you can drive, even if you don’t have as much hand dexterity as you used to have. The level of adaptation your car will need depends on your level of function, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
For example, if you have a C6 injury level or below, you can drive a car using a manual chair [that you take apart and load into the car when you get in]. If you are higher than a C6, you will probably be using a power chair and in that case you’ll need a van or a mini-van with a ramp that allows you to enter the vehicle with your power chair.
Depending on your level of hand function and your injury level, you may need a lift, or assisted mechanical braking and steering with customized devices like a tripod or a knob on the steering wheel to help with your adapted driving.
We've even seen friends hit the road on their customized motorcycles, like Al Ruscalli pictured above.
Q: What are the best hand controls to use when adapting my car?
A: There are a variety of hand controls on the market including push-button controls, knobs and accelerator rings. There are four main hand control types , according to your physical abilities:
PUSH/RIGHT ANGLE STYLE
You’re going to want to talk to a hand control specialist about the steering style that is best for your personal needs.
Q: What should I look for when selecting a car for my personal use?
A: If you use a manual chair and can transfer into a vehicle, I would recommend getting a two-door car instead of a four-door. Two-door cars are easier to enter because the driver side door opens much wider than that of a four-door vehicle. That makes the entry area bigger to let you pull up your chair next to the driver’s seat.
A transfer board will help you move onto the driver's seat more easily, and will reduce the stress on your shoulders from lifting your body.
Also, if you can transfer yourself, you don’t need a special adapted vehicle in terms of having a lift or other assistance for entering the vehicle. You can just buy a regular car and have hand controls installed.
From there, the only other support you may need to drive is a transfer board to help you get in and out of the vehicle. The transfer board puts less strain on your shoulders.
When choosing a car though, your transmission matters. Get an automatic, as you obviously won’t be using a clutch to shift gears. It is possible to have a mechanical adaptive clutch installed, but why add that expense if you don’t need to?
Q: What should I do if I am travelling and need to rent a car?
A: If you’re a low quad or a paraplegic, any major rental company in large towns will have hand controls available for use with their rental vehicles. You will want to give them at least a 24-hour notice for reserving the hand controls so they will have time to install them on the vehicle that you are renting.
Also, tell them if you are left or right-handed, and if you need a knob or another steering device in addition to the hand controls.
If you use a transfer board to get in and out of a car, you will want to bring that with you because rental car agencies do not have them on hand. You can also buy portable hand controls that you can pack in your luggage and put on any car you use when you travel.
Keep in mind though, that if you are a higher-level quadriplegic or if you drive a customized van with a lift, you won’t be able to rent a similar van that you can drive. You may be able to rent an accessible van that has a lift, so you can easily enter and ride in the van with your power chair, but you won’t be able to drive it.
Don’t be afraid to get back behind the wheel! Bert often drives his family to weekend getaways and summer destinations.
Q: Bert, I can’t afford a brand new car or van that has been adapted. Where can I look for a used adapted vehicle?
A: Contact your local rehab hospital or physical therapy centers and their related peer support groups. These organizations often post flyers on bulletin boards or create places to share information about buying used adaptive vehicles. People will often advertise their used vehicles for sale through these places.