Tuesday, November 13, 2012
How do Paraplegics Drive if they can't use their legs???
One question that I am asked frequently is " How do you drive if you can't use your legs?" Most of the time I just show people the inside of my car to give them a visual answer. Since everyone can't come to my house I will do my best to explain it online. My car is equipped with what I call "Hand Controls". There are two long metal poles attached by screws to my brake pedal and gas pedal. The two poles are connected by a horizontal metal pole. The horizontal metal pole attaches underneath the steering wheel. In my car I have my hand controls attached to the steering wheel with a belt. If you have read my other posts you will find that I use belts for everything. Once again I must say, BUY a Belt. If you have one, keep it with you at all times. Belts will save your life! So now you know what device I use to drive. I mauever my hand controls with my hands. To drive, I navigate the steering wheel with my right hand since I am right handed. I use my left hand to work the hand controls. I grab the left side of the horizontal bar that is connected to the gas and brakes. I have to pull the horizontal bar upwards to give the car gas. In order to slow down or stop the car I simply push the horizontal bar downwards. I need to use both hands to drive BUT I don't always do that. Since I have always driven with hand controls I am quite experienced. At times I have mastered driving while talking on my cellphone and eating all at the same time. If you are new to driving with hand controls PLEASE do not try this. It is very dangerous to try to drive with one hand and do several other things. For those of you who may be in the market for hand controls there are many types out there to buy. The type of hand controls I have are what I call "Portable". My hand controls can screw on and off the gas and brake pedal easily to adapt to almost any other vehicle. I am not one to keep a vehicle long so this type of hand controls are best for me. There are what I call "Permanent" hand controls that remain in one car at all times and must be professionally installed and removed. Permanent hand controls are great if you are planning on keeping one vehicle for an extended amount of time. The permanent hand controls can be a bit more pricy. I personally prefer the portable type. I have had car accidents that have totaled my vehicle. When this happened I was able to remove my hand controls and transfer them to my new vehicle with no problem. Also I have used my hand controls when renting a vehicle to drive while mine was in the shop. To me this gives me independence and I do not have to depend on someone else to drive me. There are many places to buy hand controls. Both of the types of hand controls I have mentioned are available to everyone. You could search google to find the best prices. I did not buy my hand controls. When I turned 16 years old the Shriners in my area donated hand controls to me. I am not sure if this would be the case for everyone. You would have to contact your local chapter to inquire more details. I have had my hand controls for more than 11 years now and they are still in great shape. Learning to drive with hand controls is one of the greatest accomplishments I've made. I strongly suggest adapting your life to give you more independence. I wish the best to everyone in their journey to a more independent lifestyle as a person with a disability.I am open to questions so please feel free to ask.