Vehicle modifications for amputees

Areas of interest | Sep 07th

Vehicle modifications for amputees

People are often concerned that having an amputation will mean that they are unable to drive again. For most people, especially in a country as vast as Australia, driving is an important way for us to travel, go to and from work, visit friends, shop, and remain active in the community. For some people, most importantly it means independence.

I’ve had an amputation – can I still drive?

Most people who have undergone amputation/s can still drive if they are deemed fit to do so. Your doctor can assess your ability to drive and may need you to have some health tests prior to doing so. The purpose of these tests is to make sure that it’s safe for you and safe for other road users.

Do I need to have my vehicle modified?

The need for vehicle modifications can depend on a number of factors.

If you have lost your left leg then chances are that no modifications will need to be made to your vehicle. If you have a manual car, and are a below knee amputee and want to continue to drive that car, you may need to pass a driving test to prove that you are safe on the road.

If you have had a right leg amputation you may be required to have a left foot accelerator fitted to your vehicle. You also may be required to drive an automatic only car. People who wish to drive a non-modified vehicle will need to pass a test proving that they can do so.

If you have double below knee amputations you may choose to drive with hand controls and/or request to be tested using your prosthesis. In some cases people with both a below and/or above right knee amputation can request to be tested to drive an unmodified car.

If you have had an upper limb amputation you may be required to be tested and drive with a spinner knob, have one fitted to your vehicle and use it when driving.

To learn about car modifications, tests and requirements, speak to your occupational therapist.

What types of vehicles can be modified?

Most automatic vehicles can be modified for both upper and lower limb amputees. For those of you who are motorbike enthusiasts, some motorbike can also be modified to suit amputee riders. Depending on the funding scheme you are connected to, it may want to know the age of the vehicle and if it is in roadworthy condition before they approve funding for any modifications.

What kind of vehicle modifications are available?

  • Hand controls
  • Spinner knobs
  • Left foot accelerators
  • Hand worn accelerators
  • Wheelchair lifters and carriers
  • Roof mounted wheelchair transporters/pods
  • Swivel Seats
  • Auto Assist Grab Bars

Who can assist you with information and assessment?

An Occupational Therapist (OT) specialised in driver assessment and training can assist you in several ways:

  • Assess you for driving
  • Conduct your driving test
  • Recommend the right device for modifying your vehicle.

If you need to find an occupational therapist with skills in driver training in your state or territory you can visit Occupational Therapy Aust Find an OT’ The OT will work with you to determine your needs and requirements, and arrange for trials of equipment to make sure they meet your needs.