Driving with a Spinal Cord Injury

Driving is an activity which most people assume cannot be achieved by people with a spinal cord injury.  This could not be further from the truth.

Generally a spinal cord injury will either temporarily or permanently damage the use of the person’s legs meaning they cannot properly control the gas/brake pedals.

In this instance the person has the option to utilize a set of hand controls in order to operate the floor pedals by using one hand, and steering the car with the other hand.

Hand Controls for Spinal Cord Injury Victims

There are many different types of driving controls, and many different manufacturers too – all to cater to different types of disabilities.  The most common disability catered for is regular paraplegia where both legs are non-functioning (or don’t have the motor skills required for safe pedal usage) but the hands are still working.

In this situation hand controls are used in conjunction with handicap car equipment in order to allow for safe and comfortable driving.

This type of equipment includes pedal and steering wheel attachments which help the driver with tasks such as not accidentally activating the pedals or being able to steering comfortably using just one hand at all times.

  • Unfortunately if the spine injury renders both the arms and legs incapable of movement then driving is currently impossible.

Handicap Car Equipment for Paraplegic Drivers

The most advanced driving technology requires people who can still use both hands even if both hands are very weak (perhaps suffering from arthritis or a muscle wasting disease) via electronic steering and pedal controls.

Stronger disabled drivers may prefer a set of cheap portable hand controls which are 2-3 times cheaper than regular hand controls and can be found for as little as 300 dollars.

Most permanent devices cost around 500 dollars with 200 more for a required professional mechanical installation.

Of course there are upsides and downsides to using both types and it may be worth looking into the differences between permanent and portable hand controls to see which is best for you.

Portable Hand Controls for Disabled Drivers

Generally people who casual drivers who just want to go out every now and again choose portable sets because you can quickly attach them and remove them which allows for the car to be used by an able bodied person most of the time.

Some people will need to recognize that other conditions aside from their spine ailment can affect whether they can drive.  I’m not just talking about the legality of driving with a disability which varies based on country and condition, but whether you can physically (and mentally in some cases) be able to drive safely.

The reality is that in most situations most people will be fine, most conditions (even rarer ones such as one legged use, amputees and arthritis suffers etcetera) are catered for and so driving shouldn’t be a problem.

I would recommend navigating this disabled driving website to find what you’re looking for because it covers all aspects of driving as a handicapped individual.


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