Maintaining Mobility Independence

Can you drive with multiple sclerosis?

Person with multiple sclerosis waivingYes, many people with multiple sclerosis are able to continue driving. In some cases, safe driving may require the addition of adaptive devices to assist in operating the vehicle’s primary driving controls (gas, brake, and steering) as well as the vehicle’s secondary driving controls (turn signals, windshield wipers, horn, etc.).

To determine if you are a candidate for driving, a driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation. The assessment should include vision, visual perception, functional ability, reaction time, and a behind-the-wheel evaluation. After this assessment, the driver rehabilitation specialist will help you identify what special equipment or accomodations are needed to aid in safely maintaining your mobility independence for as long as possible.

Adaptive Driving Equipment

Possible Mobility Solutions for a Driver with Multiple Sclerosis

Because MS affects individuals in varying ways, some drivers may require vehicle modifications or adaptive equipment while other drivers may not. The equipment listed below is frequently used by drivers with multiple sclerosis who do require special equipment and accomodations. In addition to these items, there are more products available to help create a safe and comfortable driving experience that is customized for you.

 To help you determine what solution best fits your needs, your driver rehabilitation specialist will likely have different variations of demo equipment for you to try. If a particular product is not available for you to demo, please contact a Creative Mobility Group showroom so we can facilitate a demonstration for you with your driver rehabilitation specialist.

Person driving vehicle with hand cnotrols and spinner knobHand Controls
Hand controls allow the driver to accelerate and brake using hand movements.
Spinner knob steering device installed on a steering wheelSteering Device
Commonly used with hand controls, a steering device attaches to a vehicle’s steering wheel to provide easier and more comfortable steering.
Person using index finger to turn a steering wheelReduced Effort Steering
In addition to a steering device, a reduced effort steering modification may be needed.

Woman entering Toyota Sienna minivan with turn out seatTransfer Aid
A transfer aid, such as BraunAbility® Turny® Evo, can assist with entering and exiting the vehicle independently.
Woman loading mobility scooter with crane-style lift into a minivanScooter Stowage Lift
If the driver utilizes a mobility aid, such as scooter, a stowage lift can assist with transporting it.
Woman on mobility scooter in front of wheelchair accessible Toyota Sienna with ramp deployedWheelchair Accessible Van
If the driver uses a power wheelchair, a wheelchair accessible van may be needed.

Additional Considerations

Physical Changes from MS that May Affect One’s Ability to Drive

For individuals with MS, the following physical changes may affect one’s ability to drive. These should be discussed with your physician and driver rehabilitation specialist to help determine what accommodations are required to provide a safe driving plan.

Visual changes from MS may be severe enough that driving is precluded or night driving is prohibited. If double vision is intermittent and can be monitored independently, then driving time may be limited to avoid driving during an exacerbation. Sunglasses may help with glare sensitivity; however, night driving not recommended with sunglasses. Additional mirrors can be utilized to compensate for loss of peripheral vision. Drivers can learn the order of traffic signals to aid with color vision impairment.

Drivers with MS need to be able to regulate emotions and should avoid driving when upset, angry, or overly emotional. If an individual displays adequate judgement required to drive but some loss of memory or problem solving exists, driving may be limited to familiar routes.

For drivers with MS, energy conservation is vital. To save energy for driving, a driver may require equipment to assist with transfering in and out of the vehicle. If the driver uses a mobility aid, such a scooter or power wheelchair, a stowage lift can assist with loading it into the vehicle.

Drivers with MS should seek their physician’s input regarding side effects which may impair driving. Additionally, drivers should not operate a vehicle when sleepy or just before or after taking medication.


Additional Resources for Driving and Multiple Sclerosis

The organizations listed below can provide more resources and information on learning to drive with adaptive equipment for individuals with multiple sclerosis. If you’re ready to begin your driver rehabilitation journey, contact The Creative Mobility Group to help you get started!

Logos for ADED - The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association, NMEDA - The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Assocation, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society