Various vehicle adaptation solutions suitable for people with spinal cord injuries (tetraplegia, paraplegia).

There are many ways in which you can adapt your car to suit your specific needs. The location and severity of your injury greatly affect how this adaptation might look. For example, Tetraplegic drivers often stay seated in their powerchair while driving. For paraplegic drivers, it’s more common to first make a transfer to the car seat. Another important adaptation is providing support for limbs and pressure relief for the body in general.

Browse through the below examples to get an idea of what will work for you.

Hand controls
Having limited or no function in the legs means that the functions of the pedals must be moved to a set of hand controls. These are often in the form of floor mounted lever where push brakes and pull accelerates. Additionally, many of the functions surrounding the steering wheel can be moved to the hand controls such as indicators and cruise control.

Armrests can provide extra support and make driving a more comfortable experience, particularly during long distances.

Extra light power steering
If it’s hard to turn the steering wheel, it’s possible to lighten the power steering, making the steering wheel require less force. Please note that light power steering is not available for all car models.

Vacuum-assisted braking

To reduce the force needed for braking it’s possible to install braking assistance. This is suitable for drivers who find it difficult to press down the brake by foot or by hand when braking with a hand lever.

Pedal guard
If you are driving using hand controls, a pedal guard can eliminate the risk of the feet sliding under the pedals when driving. Getting a foot underneath the brake pedal for example, might result in not being able to apply the brake when needed.

Steering devices
A steering device can help out if you only have one hand on the steering wheel. Also known as Steering knobs, Wheel spinners and Steering aids, these devices allow you to keep a firm grip and spin the steering wheel without letting go. Steering devices are commonly used in combination with hand controls but can also be beneficial if you have reduced upper body mobility or grip strength.

Anatomically designed seats
Original car seats are usually not customizable, so sometimes an adaptable seat is necessary for your comfort and safety. They can help provide pressure relief, good support and the ability to modify the seat position to prevent you from sliding forward. Also, a special seat might be necessary if you are using a swivel seat or seat lift, as the original seat is not designed to rotate out of the car.

Transfer board
Transfer boards are used to reduce the risk when transferring into and out of the car. The board folds out right next to the seat which gives you a platform to make a short stopover before sliding over to the seat. Once you’re comfortably seated you can fold away the transfer board until you need it again.

Seat lift or Swivel seat
These devices rotate the seat and bring it either fully or partially outside the vehicle. The standard swivel seat rotates the seat, bringing its front over the sill, effectively shortening the gap between the wheelchair and the car seat. For higher built cars, a seat lift is a better choice. Here, the entire seat is brought out of the car and down to your level. Seat lifts are usually fully powered.

Roof top box with wheelchair hoist
This solution will pick up and stow a folding frame wheelchair at the push of a button. Inside the roof top box, the wheelchair is protected from the elements during transport. It also keeps the car’s interior free from any dirt and mud on the wheelchair. It’s a great solution for independent drivers as well as passengers.

Wheelchair lifts
A wheelchair lift can help you get seated in a vehicle while seated in a wheelchair. Wheelchair lifts come in many shapes and sizes and fit in most high vehicles where there’s room, typically a higher vehicle such as a minivan. Inside the vehicle, the user can transfer using a 6-way base or stay seated using a wheelchair lock.