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Driving is a marvellous distraction for many people. Some find it is an escape from the home environment and a feeling of being free.
For users however who are disabled or may suffer from impaired mobility, driving or being a passenger in a car can prove challenging. Getting in and out of a car can often prove demanding and simple tasks such as putting on a seat-belt may require significant effort.
With the right car mobility aids though, car journeys shouldn’t need to be troublesome. In this article, we will cover some of the best vehicle and driving mobility aids that are currently available which require no costly permanent modifications to a vehicle and are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive.
Always contact an occupational therapist so that the user can be assessed first and can be advised what mobility aids may be necessary or beneficial for them.
Getting into and out of a car can often prove challenging, especially if you have limited lower mobility. A useful aid that that can be used to help a user to get in and out of a car which requires no vehicle modification is a handy bar or otherwise known as a car cane.
A handy bar/car cane inserts into the U-shaped striker plate on the vehicle’s door frame. It provides a sturdy support handle for users and it makes it easier when getting in and out of a car.
The aid is constructed from strong steel so it supports weights up to 350 lbs. Apart from providing a handy support, it provides additional features such as a seat belt cutter for emergencies, a glass breaker and a LED flashlight.
An alternative to a handy bar is a car caddie. In order to use one, you simply bring down your car side-window partially, you then secure the end of the car caddie strap around the top of the window frame.
The user can then use the loop handle as additional support when getting in and out of the car.
Most car caddies are made from durable nylon and are height adjustable to suit different users. When choosing a car caddie, select one that has a cushioned grip which means it will be more comfortable to use.
For wheelchair users, making those final few steps from their wheelchair to a car seat can prove a big struggle or even impossible.
With a transfer board, it makes this step much easier and safer. A transfer board connects the wheelchair’s seat with the car seat. This means users who are unable to stand up can use the transfer board to slide from one seat to another.
In order to use the board, the user simply needs to shift their weight to one side while the board is positioned under them.
There are a wide range of transfer boards available, some are straight and some are angled or curved. To aid with a user’s transfer, some boards will contain a rotating seat that slides along the length of the board as the user moves along it.
If an individual uses a wheelchair and is able to stand-up for limited periods of time but they may struggle with leg mobility maybe due to partial paralysis, a pivot or transfer disc can be used to help users into and out of the car. A transfer disc turns 360 degrees, so it allows users to transfer to and from a car seat easily without having to put too much strain on the user’s legs.
In order to use a pivot disc, the user stands on it and they turn slowly on it until their back faces the car seat or the wheelchair before sitting down.
Swivel Seat Cushion
A swivel seat cushion allows users to transfer to and from a car seat much easier. It reduces the amount of twisting the user has to perform when entering and existing a vehicle so it can lessen the strain on the hips and back.
In order to use a swivel cushion, the user sits on it sideways, they then spin their legs into the car with the help of the cushion’s swivel mechanism which reduces the amount of turning that they have to perform.
Swivel seat cushions are designed to work best on flat seats. If your car has bucket or concave seats a swivel seat cushion may not be suitable.
Steering Wheel Knob
Gripping a steering wheel for a prolonged period when you have arthritis and you suffer with joint pain can make driving uncomfortable.
If you struggle with a regular steering wheel, a steering wheel knob can make all the difference. It can make driving more comfortable and it will allow you to steer without having to grip the wheel.
A steering wheel knob is compatible with most steering wheels and it can be fitted easily in a matter of minutes. It can make parking easier and it makes handling safer especially when making tight turns.
For right-handed users, it is recommended that you fit a steering wheel knob at the 2 o’clock position. While for left-handed users, it should be fitted at the 10 o’clock position.
Seat Belt Grabber
Reaching for a car seat belt can often be a struggle especially if you suffer with arthritic hands or shoulder pain. In order to reduce the strain on your hands and shoulders when putting a seat belt on, a seat belt grabber can be used.
The seat belt grabber simply snaps onto your existing seat belt and it acts as a handle allowing you to easily grab it without having to twist or turn. It fits most standard seat belts and fitting one requires no tools so one can be fitted in a matter of seconds.
If you suffer with limited hand dexterity, putting your seat belt into the buckle receiver can prove tricky and frustrating at times.
With a buckle holder however, it helps to keep the backseat receiver in an upright positon which means no more searching for the buckle and it allows you to buckle up with just one hand.
As you can see from the below video, it is extremely easy to install and is perfect for anyone with limited mobility.
Car Seat Leveller Cushion
A car seat leveller cushion as the name suggest levels out the bucketing of a car seat and helps to ease muscle tension.
If you suffer with pain in the lumbar region, the use of a leveller cushion allows you to adopt a more natural posture and helps to reduce discomfort in your lower back. It helps to make car journeys much more comfortable.
If a user suffers from reduced mobility or they may have an immobile leg, lifting ones leg out of a car can prove problematic.
Using a leg lifter however, a user can place their foot into the loop of the lifter and they can then lift their leg out of the vehicle without too much hassle.
Helping someone out of a car when they have limited mobility and when they lack lower body strength can often prove challenging. Not only can it be strenuous helping to lift someone up, it can put unnecessary strain on your back and it can result in injuries for both parties.
With the use of a standing handle, this can help to eliminate these issues altogether. The standing handle acts as a simple tool to assist users to stand-up as well as sit down and it can help to reduce the strain on the carer’s back.
The portable tool contains non-slip padded handgrips on both ends. On one end, the carer holds onto the handgrip, and on the other end the patient does the same thing. The carer can then use the tool to help the user out or into the car more efficiently eliminating the need for any awkward arm pulling.