Paraplegic Athlete Todd Robinson Says, “Yes, You Can Drive – Even When In A Wheelchair”

Editor’s Note: Paraplegic Athlete Todd Robinson of Alpharetta, Georgia, is a sales representative for At Home Medical, based in Suwanee, Georgia, which specializes in urological products, incontinent supplies, wound-care, ostomy and general medical supplies for patients who are making cash purchases.  As a follow-up to Todd’s interview about his IronMan competition, we also talked with Robinson about some of the concerns that people in wheelchairs have.  Part 1 of a four-part series entitled “The 10 Most-Often Asked Questions about Living with Disabilities”.
 
Question: What would you say to those who ask you if they can drive a car while in a wheelchair?
Todd Robinson shares his thoughts from the perspective of a wheelchair user.

Todd Robinson shares his thoughts from the perspective of a wheelchair user.

 

Robinson: Most people in wheelchairs are concerned about driving, traveling and accessibility. You can get hand controls for your vehicle and perform all the functions required to drive. Most major auto manufacturers will have hand controls installed as a part of your buying contract, when you purchase a car or a van.

When I bought my new vehicle, the dealer included the hand controls as part of the buying price. Then the dealer took the vehicle to a place that installed the hand controls. When it was finished, I picked-up my car from the dealer.

If you buy a used car, you’re not out of luck. Search for a place in your area that does van conversions, and they’ll tell you how and where to get hand controls installed. Rehab hospitals in your region usually know who can provide this service. An auto dealership also can provide resources for hand-control installation. Many times an auto dealership has had hand controls installed before and will know the special shops that do that work.

Question: How do you get out of your chair and into your car to drive, and how do you get out of the car once you’ve reached your destination?

Robinson: This depends on your level of disability. I have full-functioning arms and hands and decent balance. So, I put my feet up in the car on the driver’s side and grab the edge of the door with my left hand and the seat with my right. Then I hoist myself up into the seat.

I have a rigid-frame wheelchair, so I take the wheels off my wheelchair and put them behind the passenger seat. I’ll put the frame in the passenger seat beside me, if no one’s riding with me, and in the back seat, if someone is riding with me.

As Todd will tell you, there's a tailgate party waiting for you too - get out and drive!

As Todd will tell you, there's a tailgate party waiting for you too - get out and drive!

Now, if you don’t have the arm and the hand strength to get in by yourself, you’ll probably need a van with a lift. Smaller vans, like the wheelchair-accessible Honda Element SUV, have ramps that slide under the floorboard, so you can wheel yourself up into the driver’s seat.

New Mobility Magazine is a wonderful resource for news on adapted vehicles.

New Mobility Magazine is a wonderful resource for news on adapted vehicles.

They also can put ramps or hoists on the rear door or on the big, wide rollback door on the side of the van. That way you can roll your wheelchair up into the car and then transfer into the driver’s seat.

People who can’t do independent transfers and who are in power chairs will need vans that each have a lift. The van-conversion people will take-out the driver’s seats, so you can pull your seat into the van and over to the driver’s side of the car. There’s a locking mechanism that locks-down your chair. Then you can drive from your power chair.
I’ve learned a lot about the different ways to get in and out of vehicles and to drive from New Mobility Magazine.
 
 
 
 
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

2 Responses to Paraplegic Athlete Todd Robinson Says, “Yes, You Can Drive – Even When In A Wheelchair”

  1. Pingback: A Teenaged Eric Kolar Tried to Fit in While in a Wheelchair « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. Pingback: Hiring Accessible Vehicles » disabilitydirectory.net.au

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