At Georgia Prosthetics (located in Atlanta, Ga.) one of the most common questions we receive from new patients is “can I drive with my new prosthetic device?” After all, maintaining your independence as much as possible is one of the primary psychological motivators for the vast majority of amputees.
In truth, there is not an exact answer to this question, because different individuals will have different prosthetic devices, which in turn may or may not significantly impact their ability to operate a vehicle the same way as they used to.
In addition to this, certain states may require that amputees undergo an assessment to evaluate their driving abilities, and whether or not the amputee needs to make any special modifications to his or her vehicle before operating.
Necessary vehicle modification depending on your specific situation
While no two situations are exactly the same, there are three common scenarios:
First and foremost, some individuals can drive normally with their leg or foot prosthetic device, and thus require no special vehicle modifications. Typically, these are individuals with lower leg prosthetic devices that still maintain significant control of their leg.
Secondly, a person may need to make slight modifications if they have experienced a right leg amputation. Normal modifications in this situation may be one (or more) of the following:
- A left foot gas pedal may be required so the driver can have adequate control of the vehicle.
- The driver must have an automatic transmission as opposed to a manual transmission.
- A power brake must be applied.
Thirdly, a double amputee will likely require more significant modifications, such as one or more of the following:
- Hand controls for the break and gas pedals
- An emergency break extension for easier use
- An automatic transmission as opposed to a manual transmission
The good news is that many amputees can in fact drive!
Many individuals who have lower limb prosthetic devices can drive vehicles safely and effectively with a few modifications. This enables you to live your life more normally, relying less on others for transportation.
At Georgia Prosthetics, we go out of our way to ensure you get the personal care and service you deserve. If you are in or around the Atlanta area, and are looking for a new or replacement prosthesis, then we encourage you to contact us today. We promise that you’ll witness a caring, compassionate team from the minute you walk through our office door!