Car Modifcations for Paraplegic and Disabled People

Allowing for disabled people to drive a vehicle requires various modifications which are either permanent or removable (portable).  This page shall provide a brief overview of the different attachments and installations required as well as link towards relevant internal pages.

To start with the main group of disabled people which I’ll be addressing is in fact paraplegics who have no use of their legs whatsoever, and the main vehicle I’ll be addressing is your standard car.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the other disabilities but they won’t be my focal point because the majority of disabled drivers have no or only partial use of their legs.

Car Modifications for Paraplegic Drivers

My main focal point is in fact hand controls – both portable and permanent – which bypass the use of legs for operating the pedals to allow usually just one hand the ability to control both the acceleration and brake.

You can either go to a local disabled car dealership and have these installed permanently or purchase a portable (removable) set online which most people prefer due to the cheaper prices and lower costs which are on offer for the kit.

Portable versions tend to have significant advantages in many (although not all) aspects which makes them very desirable for most drivers – especially those on a lower budget who are more interested in casual driving.

There are various other types of equipment required too, such as modified steering wheels which provide a plethora of different options based on the driver’s preference and disabilities.

Generally most people will want a spinner attachment to allow for one handed steering because their other hand will be on the hand control’s handle operating the pedals.

Spinner Knob Attachment

It’s also very important o look into the additional pedal equipment for safer driving plus (less importantly) accessories to allow for a more comfortable driving experience.

  • Generally these accessories are not particularly expensive and some can be very useful for drivers who want to, for example, lift their legs into the vehicle without having requiring assistance.

Many of the accessories such as reach extenders can, of course, also be used within one’s home and do not need to be confined simply to the car.  Oppositely it’s also worth checking around your house to see if there’s anything lying around which could be used to make your driving a little easier.

Generally there are two main types of installation for the various modifications your car may need.

The first is permanent and can reduce the value of the vehicle, requires a mechanic to install, and will leave open damage wounds once/if removed.

The second are portable/removable installations which are generally more popular because they allow the vehicle to be used for both able bodied and disabled or paraplegic use at a whim.

These tend to be cheaper but can occasionally be more expensive and take only a few minutes to remove/install as is necessary.

Most people prefer the Freedom Staffs removable hand control because of its price, functionality and popularity within the community of handicapped drivers.

Steering Wheel Turning Aid (MPS Monatch)

Personally I would go for them, and even though I don’t yet sell them myself I still recommend them to everyone who’s interested in driving.

There are lots of different modifications for the steering wheel to cater for many different disabilities.  A good example would be for amputees who have a two fingered amputee hook.  Now in most cases they’re going to be able to use their legs but they’ll also want two hands on the wheel in able to secure a safer and secure driving experience.

In this situation an amputee ring can be installed on the steering wheel which allows for their fingers to wrap around the ring and hence provide extra control and support when turning.

But what if their amputee hook is too short?  Well for every problem there’s usually a solution and one manufacturer called Mobility Products and Design offers 2 to 3 inch extensions on all its steering wheel controls which would allow the amputee ring on the wheel to be closer to the amputee driver.

This is one good example of a rare driving case (the amputee) requiring an ever rarer modification (a length extension) – but as you can see both of these unusual circumstances were met with instant and rewarding results.

For the vast majority of unusual disabilities which hinder or stop driving there’s a solution, and you can utilize this website to find out what it is that you require.

Even more obscure situations such as regarding the law in the United States are addressed and it’s important for you to recognize that HHC covers every single aspect of disabled driving from start to finish.

One final example I’ll give are to people who can use all of their limbs apart from their left leg.  They can steer and operate the brake but they cannot accelerate, and hence hand controls are required to fill the gap.

There are both accelerator-only and brake-only devices on offer so they can opt for an accelerator only installation and hence operate the car by accelerating using one hand, braking using their left leg and steering using their other hand.

  • Technically this is possible but it’s more difficult then accelerator using your leg which is much stronger and braking using your arm (which is far less effort consuming than accelerating using your arm).

Therefore a better solution which I’m guessing you probably didn’t know about would be to have a left foot gas pedal transfer with a brake-only driving control.

This allows the ‘best of both worlds’ with regards to effort and safety.  They can use their leg to shoulder the burden of constant acceleration, use their arm for the occasional braking and use their other arm (with a spinner knob for easier turning if they wish) to steering the car.

Most people wouldn’t go for this option simply because they wouldn’t know it exists, but there are many different options out there which cover a wide range of different handicap requirements with regards to driving, and they’re certainly worth looking into.

One Response to “Car Modifcations for Paraplegic and Disabled People”

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  1. Mark says:

    These accessories can help a lot. But always ask professionals before you buy hand controls.

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