Vehicle accessibility for amputees

A symbol showing a person with an amputated leg.

Various vehicle adaptation solutions suitable for amputees.

Being an amputee often means that you have to manage certain tasks with one limb instead of two. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: Move functions from one side to the other, or between feet and hands. Another potential issue is losing balance, especially when moving yourself or your mobility device into and out of the car.

To find out more about vehicle adaptations commonly used by amputees read the list below.

Hand control

Even if pedals are the standard way to control the gas and brake in a car it's by no means the only way to do so. Hand controls move the functionality of the pedals to a hand operated lever or a grip operated steering wheel mounted ring, known as a gas ring. To be able to use hand controls the car must have an automatic transmission.

Hands driving a car using a steering device and hand controls.
Left foot accelerator

For right leg amputees, a left-side accelerator is a simple yet effective workaround. Basically, the accelerator pedal moves to the left side. To use a left foot accelerator the car must have an automatic transmission.

A left foot accelerator pedal
A board next to the driver's seat of a car.
Transfer board

Transfer boards are used to reduce the risk of falling between the seat and wheelchair when transferring into and out of the car. A typical transfer board is permanently installed and folded out of the way when not needed. There are also semi-permanent boards that attaches to a permanent bracket in the car. Finally, there’s the completely portable transfer board. However, there's a big benefit of a permanent or semi-permanent installation. Transferring to a fixed point greatly reduces the risk of falling as it cannot slide away during transfer.

Swivel base

A swivel base enables the seat to be rotated towards the door opening and over the sill. In short it brings the seat closer, reducing the distance when transferring from a wheelchair or sitting down. One major advantage is that the user can sit close to the back support without turning the body. Swivel bases can be manually operated or powered and operated via a hand held remote.

A car sweat swivelled out through the car door opening.
Seat lift

In cars where the seat is higher up, a seat lift is our recommended solution. A seat lift rotates the seat and brings it outside the car where it can be lowered down to a suitable height for transfers. After transferring the user can stay seated while the seat lift, lifts and rotates them into position in the car. One advantage with having the entire seat on the outside of the vehicle is the possibility to place the wheelchair next to the seat for sideways transfers. Seat lifts are also ideal for those that need assistance getting out of the seat. As the height is set with a simple press of the button it can be used as assistance when in standing up.

A seat lift with the car seat on the outside of the car.
An elderly couple using a transfer wheelchair.
Transfer wheelchair

A transfer wheelchair eliminates the lift when transferring from wheelchair to car. The wheelchair seat including the seated user slides from the wheelbase of the wheelchair to a swivel base or seat lift of the car. Transfer wheelchair users will need the assistance of a carer, however assisting in a transfer requires very little strength. A variety of accessories can help optimise the user’s seating position both in the wheelchair and in the car. A transfer wheelchair is always used in combination with a swivel base or seat lift.

A powerchair ready to be loaded into a car using a hoist.
Wheelchair hoists

A wheelchair hoist assists in lifting manual and ­powered wheelchairs as well as pretty much any mobility device into the boot of the car. Aside from doing all the heavy lifting they also provide a sturdy point to hold onto. Most hoists have a rotating base to facilitate guiding the mobility device into the correct place. Hoists available with lifting capacity from 25 kg, for manual wheelchairs, walkers, prams etc. and up to 180 kg for power wheelchairs or scooters.

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