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Thread: Walking incomplete paras - ?driving

  1. #1

    Walking incomplete paras - ?driving

    Are you guys driving?

    If so, are you using hand controls ... or your feet?

    If you use your feet, are you using AFOs or are you unencumbered? Can you feel your feet?

    My dad has bilateral AFOs with totally numb feet. His doctors/therapists are somewhat ambivalent about his driving. All are in favor of driving, and say he should just try using his feet, and see how it goes. He's driven around the parking lot, and seemed ..... ok. But I am a bit more wary about more challenging environments. Hand controls seem to be a nice alternative...

  2. #2
    I would throw in my vote that your dad start with hand controls. I have minimal sensation in my feet. And when I drive an automatic, I am often not sure if I am pressing on the brake or the accelerator. And that is without an AFO. I wear an AFO on the left foot and a scary episodes occurred when my afo got stuck behind the brake pedal and I couldn't get it out and I couldn't hit the brake. SCARY - I desperately got it out of the way finally.
    I think the prudent thing is to have a set of hand controls to start with. Then he could start by using his right leg for the gas, but still brake with his hand. Then he could try to do both with the right foot but have the security if he can't get to the brake , that he can use the hand brake.
    I finally got to the point that I trust my anaesthetic foot that I can reach both pedals, but I have not removed my hand controls just to be sure.
    So, have him take a drivers test with the hand controls and safely build up confidence to use his numb feet, maybe. He can always retake the test to show the DMV that he can control the vehicle with his feet.
    I was worried that my left AFO would get stuck under the pedal so now a days I velcro my left thigh to the door to be sure it stays in place.
    How are you HLH? Playing any good music?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Imight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I could drive without hand controls if I really wanted to, but living in the most congested city, stop and go, stop and go, oh shit she slammed her breaks, turn left, uh oh break quick people crossing. Im too scared. fatigue is another reason.

    one day maybe. who knows. *shrugs*

    I would say hand controls first.

    I will know when the day comes I can mimick consistant driving (meaning heavy traffic scenerios) in my living room for 2 hours straight before jumping behind the wheel and giving it a go.

    No more crashes for me. The last one I had did a great job in screwing up my life.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    first - sorry my poor english

    I'm a walking quad, wearing a AKFO right. I drive automatic car without handcontrol.
    Gas ( throttle) is moved to the left side and I pressing gas and brake with the left leg.
    I tried to drive a normal car with gas right - it was possible but i wasn't able to move my rigth leg from gas to the brake fast enough.
    I have nearly normal senisbility. and i think this is important if you want to use your legs.


  5. #5
    Senior Member CurvySAT05's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Southern California
    Most of my damage affects the function of my right leg and I can't feel the bottom of my right foot. I drive with my left foot with no adaptation to my car. I simply cross my right leg behind my left leg next to the seat and put my left leg/foot towards the gas on the right. I started doing this nearly 2 years ago now and even then it was easy for me to get used to. I should be getting an AFO soon for my right foot (foot drop) and will see if I need to change anything around in the car after that.
    I have never used hand controls and have considered using a left foot accelerator but have not purchased one since I am able to drive without any changes at this point in time.
    SCI as a result of spinal surgery
    TiLite Aero Z!!!

  6. #6
    My injury level is T-7-8 (brown sequard) and have been blessed with the ability to drive device/control free.
    I lack feeling and sensation in my right leg; but can control acceleration and braking by judging speed and distance. I must admit, I can feel the pressure of my foot against the accelerator and brakes, but is does not help in terms of controlling speed and distance by feel.
    Lastly, once I completed occupational therapy, the therapist provided 3 tests. The first was a simulated involving acceleration and braking, the 2nd was visual and the 3rd test was a road test.

  7. #7
    I have been driving with my feet all the time and can still do. Only they don't let me anymore and want me to use hand controlls.
    TH 12, 43 years post

  8. #8
    I am driving my car , autoamtic , and I was doing it since when I was using w/c . First time, kind of danger for the others ,because I was not able to move my right foot from gas to brake, fast enough to avoid dangerous situations. Was practicing in a safe area for some time. I am using an AFO on left leg , and have almost full sensation on right leg so, it was no need to have hand controles on it. It tooke me 2 or 3 months to get use to it and drive safely.

  9. #9
    Senior Member fishin'guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Seattle area Wash state
    I have no sensation in either feet, so it's hand controls. They're sweet.

  10. #10


    Thank you very much for your input. It's very useful. I'll try to get my dad to come on to read it himself!

    Not playing any music these days Jon. Violin is in SF, I'm in Chicago. Such is life... things are pretty good tho. Hope you're playing/listening.

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