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Driving might be possible after a spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury can affect your freedom. When you have a spinal cord injury, you might not be able to do things on your own. You might worry about how you are going to enjoy life without the full freedom that you once knew.

For people who have a spinal cord injury, it might still be possible to drive. That could give you some of your freedom back.

There are several different adaptations that might be able to help you drive. Automatic door openers, touch ignition pads, hand controls for accelerating and braking, joysticks for operation, and power assist devices to help with steering are some examples of the adaptations you might be able to use if you can drive.

When you try to drive after a spinal cord injury, you will likely have to relearn how to operate the vehicle. Even when you use adaptations, you are still required to follow the laws of the road.

One of the first things you will have to do if you want to drive after a spinal cord injury is to have an evaluation to determine if you can perform the functions necessary to drive. An evaluation will determine how you make decisions, your muscle strength, your reaction time, your range of motion, your vision and how you handle any necessary adaptive equipment. If it is found that you can drive, you might have restrictions on your license based on the adaptations you need to drive safely.

Adaptive equipment for vehicles can get expensive. If you were injured in an accident and are seeking compensation from a person or entity at fault for the injury, you want to factor in adaptive equipment to the amount you are seeking.

Source: Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, "Cars and Driving," accessed Sep. 04, 2016

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