Retrun to Driving

Can you drive after a spinal cord injury?

Wheelchair tennis players greeting each other at the netYes, many people are able to return to driving after a spinal cord injury. In most cases, safe driving can be achieved with 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.). Modifications to make the vehicle wheelchair accessible may also be required.

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

Adaptive Driving Equipment

Possible Mobility Solutions for a Driver with a Spinal Cord Injury

Oftentimes, driving after a spinal cord injury requires vehicle modifications and adaptive equipment. While every driver is unique, the equipment listed below is frequently used by drivers with a spinal cord injury. 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.

Right hand positioned in tri-pin handle of low-effort hand controlLow Effort Hand Controls
Low effot hand controls allow the driver to accelerate and brake with minimal effort and travel.
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.
A person with upper extremity limb difference driving a vehicleReduced Effort Steering
In addition to a steering device, a reduced effort steering modification or other steering wheel modifications may be needed.

Key pad for electronic gear shift selector installed in a vehicleModified Gear Shifter
An electronic or mechanical gear shift modification can allow the driver to more easily engage the shifter.
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.
Person driving a wheelchair accessible van from his power wheelchairWheelchair Accessible Van
If the driver will be driving from their wheelchair, a wheelchair accessible vehicle will be needed.


Additional Resources for Driving After a Spinal Cod Injury

The organizations listed below can provide more resources and information on learning to drive with adaptive equipment after a spinal cord injury. 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, United Spinal Association, and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation