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Modifying Vehicles After an Amputation

Posted by Bryan Potok on

After an amputation, most people are concerned about how their freedom of mobility will be affected. The good news is that most amputees can easily pick up driving again with some modifications.

 How to modify vehicles after an amputation.

Depending on your amputation level, you may still drive a standard vehicle, while others will have to modify their car or truck. If you plan on buying a new car, you might want to take advantage of generous rebates offered by most manufacturers. The rebate can be applied to the cost of mobility controls.

You will be required to undergo driver training by most mobility control installers before they proceed to modify a vehicle. This is because your reflexes need to adapt to the new controls to ensure that you can drive safely. 

Although you’re not obligated to inform your insurance company or your state about your new mobility controls, we highly recommend telling your insurance company, so your modified vehicle is fully covered.

Foot controls  

The most common device is a left foot accelerator, which is moved to the left of the brake pedal. If you choose this device, the existing accelerator will be covered so you don't accidentally step on it. 

With this modified setup, the driver will control both the brake and the accelerator with his/her left foot. However, this control is one of the most difficult to adapt to because reflexes using the right foot for driving are deeply ingrained, and this is where driver training comes in handy.

The best part about these controllers is that they are relatively easy to remove and reinstall, so other drivers can still operate your car or truck.

Hand controls  

Hand controls are usually recommended for people with a double leg amputation. Should you choose hand controls, the installers will block both the foot-controlled accelerator and brake. Both devices are then controlled by a lever-operated by the left hand. These controls require the driver to pull to accelerate and push to brake.

A steering wheel spinner knob is recommended for easy one-handed driving. The knob can also come with buttons for easy access to additional devices, such as lights, turn signals, or wipers. For drivers using a prosthetic hook, the knob is available with a ring.

Wheelchair-friendly vehicles  

If you’re using a wheelchair, some vans feature built-in ramps. These vans can also be configured for easy transfer to a driver’s seat from a wheelchair, or to carry passengers on wheelchairs. Check with mobility dealers if they offer used mobility vans. 

Rental options  

If you’re planning to rent a vehicle, know that some rental car companies have cars with mobility controls. However, most are limited to hand controls, but a few will have a left foot accelerator. We suggest renting your car directly from a rental car company versus Expedia or, and requesting a car with driving modifications.

The future of adaptive vehicles  

Many people benefit from these available options, while others may feel they're limited. Fortunately, prosthetic and mobility companies are always working to improve and offer more personalized solutions.


For more information about driving after an amputation, you can visit the Adaptive Driving AllianceAssociation for Driver Rehabilitation SpecialistsNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.
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  • i lost my right leg to a drunk driver in 94 while i was riding my motorcycle. i was a truck driver and didnt think i would be again. my car was a 5 speed. i learned to drive my car first a 5 speed with just my left foot and a year later i was back to driving semi truck again with an 18 speed. no mods no special equiment just like it came from the factory just using my left leg.. and went back to riding my 2 wheel motorcycle again as well.. just how much do you want to do something is up to each person.. i learned either you will do it or you wont.. there is no in between. if you dont try you wont know.. and i was scared as i took the first steps to drive again… good luck to anyone that trys!!!!!!

    michael sorrell on

  • I have been driving for 41 years no mod to any car I am a dubble below the knee amputee You can do anything you set your mind to do

    Larry Chamberlin on

  • I was born both legs as below knee
    Amputee. Was able to drive any automatic stick car no need for any modification. Can do it if you try. In my time we had no help with any thing did things as the rest of the world.

    Isabelle Lassa on

  • I was in Ohio when I had Right AK amp. Ohio required a left accelerator. When I moved to Missouri they did not. I had already was used to left foot driving. Took a while getting used to crossing left foot over to right side but now I am used to it. During long trips I may stop a few more times to get out and stretch, crossing over can make my back ache some times. Good Luck.

    Tom on

  • I’d like to post this article on several web sites and Facebook Amputee Groups. Do I have your permission? There’s a lot of Mis-information out there on this subject. I went through this whole process and was able to get my equipment payed for by the state of AZ as part of they’re employment rehab program.

    Jim Clark on

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