Vehicle Modification and Adaptation – Driving after SCI

Are you contemplating driving again following a spinal cord injury? Once you’ve completed your driving assessment and confirmed your ability to safely operate a modified vehicle, the next crucial step involves choosing a suitable vehicle and necessary modifications for you and your family. Your vehicle modification vendor will guide you through a series of targeted questions to pinpoint the ideal solution that caters to your specific needs.

If your plan entails independently transferring from your wheelchair into the driver’s seat, the vendor will inquire about your ability to lift the wheelchair into the vehicle, either unaided or with assistance. In cases where you transfer the wheelchair into the vehicle after occupying the driver’s seat, whether through manual means or with the aid of a lifting mechanism, you can generally consider a wide range of cars, SUVs, or trucks that accommodate transfer seats. Examples of such options include the Braun Evo, Adopt Solutions Link Seed, or the Adopt Solutions XL Board transfer board. In certain instances, the use of a robot arm or Speedy lift can assist in the process of lifting the wheelchair into the vehicle.

On the other hand, if your intention is to transfer from your wheelchair into the driver’s seat but you won’t be lifting the wheelchair into the vehicle, larger vehicles such as lower floor minivans, full-size vans, or pickups may be more suitable options to explore. Upon entering the van using a ramp or lift, you would transfer into the driver’s seat and operate the vehicle using hand controls. If you lean towards driving a pickup truck, the transfer would typically occur onto a platform outside the truck, where you would secure your wheelchair to a lift that subsequently raises it into the truck bed. From there, you can employ the transfer seat to enter the truck and utilize hand controls for driving.

In situations where self-transfer in and out of the vehicle is not feasible, common options include lower floor minivans or pickup trucks. A lowered floor minivan with ramp access serves as an excellent choice. If driving while seated in your wheelchair is your preference, you would enter the van through either the side or rear door and position yourself in the driver’s seat using power tie downs to secure your wheelchair in place. For individuals desiring to drive a pickup or large SUV without the need for transferring out of their wheelchair, a lowered floor and platform lift can facilitate entry into the vehicle and enable you to set up in the driver’s position. It’s important to note that this option tends to be pricier and less commonly encountered. The example provided illustrates the conversion installed on the passenger side.

Depending on your functional abilities and personal preferences, there exists a range of vehicle modification options available to you. It is strongly advised to engage in discussions with an occupational therapist and vehicle modification vendors to identify the most suitable combination of modifications tailored to your requirements and budget. They possess the expertise to guide you on your journey back to the road, ensuring your safety and confidence throughout the process.

Whether you seek information on cars suitable for individuals with disabilities, ponder the logistics of driving a car or van from a wheelchair, or embrace the challenge of learning to drive again after a spinal cord injury, the insights provided here will aid you in navigating the available adaptations and making well-informed decisions.

If you enjoyed this video on driving after spinal cord injury, vehicle modification for SCI, and learning to drive again in a wheelchair, please remember to like, share, subscribe, and leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. We hope to see you here again soon!

Depending on your functional ability and preferences, there is likely the right combination of vehicle modification options available for you, discussing these needs and preferences with an occupational therapist and vehicle modification vendors is a great place to start to getting you back on the road.

Not sure how we can help? Looking for answers? Connect with InfoLine: