Tag Archives: Spinner knob

Teens with Disabilities: Learning to Drive A Handicap Accessible Vehicle

The majority of teenage kids will assert that learning to drive not only makes for an exciting experience but also marks a very important moment in life – moving a step closer towards achieving independence. Teens living with a disability are not exempt from this feeling. When it’s time to teach your child to drive, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure your child’s safety and the safety of others on the road.

Regardless of your age, preparedness is essential when it comes to driving. For those living with disabilities, the process of how you prepare can be slightly different, but it is certainly equally as important. Teens and new drivers with disabilities must complete a drivers’ assessment prior to beginning lessons in order to determine what sort of adaptive equipment or techniques he or she must use while driving. Steering aids, hand controls, or ramps/lifts may be necessary for your teen to be ready to get behind the wheel and recommendations will be made by the assessment administrator (most often by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist) after a proper exam.

While some teens will require little additional equipment in order to operate a vehicle, others may need more thorough vehicle conversions. If purchasing a new handicap accessible vehicle is not in your budget, there are used options available to suit your child’s needs, as well as rentals and loaners made available by some driving schools.

Qualified driving specialists will be able to relay information on your state’s driving laws for people with disabilities, how to operate the vehicle, as well as how to get in and out of the car without additional assistance, should they need to do so.

Throughout this journey towards adulthood, it’s vital that you remain your teen’s number one fan. A supporting and encouraging environment can dramatically improve your child’s outlook on taking on the road, raising their self-confidence and making them an overall better driver. Remember, learning how to drive takes time, but with your support, the expertise of driving coaches and the accessibility of a modified vehicle, your teen will be on his or her way to being a licensed driver!

How to adapt your new or pre-owned vehicle to meet your needs after a stroke

Driving after a stroke is often a major concern for survivor’s and their loved ones. It prompts many questions about ability, safety and vehicle options. Often times, the physical disadvantages that result from stroke can compromise a survivor’s ability to operate their vehicle.

Advances in the vehicle modification industry have introduced new driving controls that are giving independence back to stroke survivors that want to drive. They allow them to get back behind the wheel in their own vehicle to go where they want to go, when they want to go.

Innovative vehicle modifications such as hand controls, left-foot accelerators, lifts and mobility seating can transform your personal vehicle into a vehicle that give you more freedom.

Mobility equipment dealers strive to remain at the forefront of the vehicle modification industry by providing cutting-edge technology and a full selection of adaptable equipment for your pre-owned vehicle.

Hand Controls For Stroke Survivors with Limited Use of their Feet
Automotive Innovations is New England’s  #1 hand control installation facility  manufacturer of hand controls and driving aids for the disabled. Hand control systems are specifically designed to give drivers the benefit of controlling a vehicle with both hands on the wheel making for a safer, smoother driving experience.

Unlike other manual and or servo hand control installers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, we have the ability to offer a custom fitment to your vehicle and you, for everything from a Fiat 500 to a Lamborghini Aventador no one else has the master craftsman, machining equipment and facility capable of performing a custom installation the way we can.

Push Rock hand controls have a handle in a vertical position; accelerating by rocking back in an arching motion using the fingers and/or the palm. There are several additional options to choose from:

  • Spinner knob: Attached to the steering wheel to allow controlled steering with use of one hand.
  • Single Pin: As an alternative to the spinner knob, this hand control was designed for clients that cannot open their hand fully.
  • Tri Pin: Great for an independent driver. It requires minimal gripping strength and/or reduced wrist stability.
  • V-Grip: This attachment is intended for drivers with moderate gripping strength.
  • Steering Wheel Extension: This device is individually customizable, so you can pick a diameter and height that best suits your needs. The easily removable device is completely compatible with any OEM steering wheel.

Servo electronic mobility controls offers driving control products that are safe and provide piece of mind every time you are on the road.

  • Lever  A gas/brake input with adjustable levels of force and travel from the full gas to the full brake position. It is designed for customers that have a wider range of motion and a larger effort level.
  • One handed steering and gas brake  A input that you can steer that is available in a two-axis configuration for gas/brake and steering It has a adjustable range of motion and very low levels  of force to operate. It is designed and custom build for each customers specific range of motion and abilities.
  • Wheel  A steering input that can be adjusted to less than 2 oz of force at the proper orthotic position of 3 3/8” from center. It is also able to be adaptable for customers that have a wider range of motion.

Left-foot Accelerator
Automotive Innovations offers the best left foot gas pedals with unmatched installations.  Left-foot accelerator are designed to offer a left foot gas pedal which acts exactly like your vehicle’s existing gas pedal. Our Left foot gas pedals are removable with features like a quick-release base so the entire assembly can be removed and re-installed quickly and easily.

Lifts for Stroke Survivors that use Wheelchairs or Walkers
Automotive Innovations can offer more solutions for the transportation of your mobility device than any other dealership in New England.

” Its worth the drive, I live in the western part of Massachusetts and will never trust my van with anyone other than Automotive Innovations. They have been taking care of me and my vans since 1996. When a company comes through for you time and time again whats that worth? For me it’s priceless and the drive is irrelevant.”

Chris P Whately, MA

  • Scooter & Wheelchair Lifts while are not always practical they do work in all types of vehicles. These fold-down wheelchair and scooter lifts make lifting and storing your manual folding wheelchair or scooter possible.

Mobility Seating
The mobility transfer seat is an innovative system for lower vehicles which can provide easer  access to an automotive seat. The seat power rotates out over the doorsill, bridging the gap for a safe transfer onto the seat. These seats are not always practical for every type of vehicle

Our goal is to match your lifestyle and your vehicle with equipment that will deliver independence.

Finding a Dealer That’s Up to Standards

Hand controls, left-foot accelerator, lifts and mobility seating offers opportunities for the stroke survivor to regain their mobility freedom in their pre-owned vehicle. You have just found the best mobility dealer in all of New England that offers a ever evolving selection of adaptable equipment.

It is important to select a reputable dealer to provide the adaptable equipment and installation for your pre-owned vehicle.

  1. Are they members of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) or another organization that has vehicle conversion standards?
  2. Are they Quality Assurance Program (QAP) certified?
  3. Do they provide ongoing service and maintenance?
  4. Do they provide 24/7 emergency service?
  5. Do they provide training on the adaptable equipment?
  6. Can the equipment be transferred to a new vehicle in the future?

Adapting pre-owned vehicles provides stroke survivors with mobility freedom in the vehicle they love and are familiar with.

Hand Control Options

Before going out and purchasing any type of modified device for a vehicle, it’s important to know exactly which hand controls are right for you and your particular needs to ensure that you are in control behind the wheel.

What type of hand control options are available?
Hand controls are designed to help drivers operate the vehicle with limited or no use of their legs. Hand controls are used to control the accelerator and brake pedals along with the steering wheel.

Mechanical hand controls can include a spinner knob, which you position and adjust to your liking on your steering wheel. A spinner knob allows drivers to steer with one hand, while the other hand is free to control the lever that is connected to the accelerator and brake. There are multiple types of hand controls but one of the common ways the device works is by pulling it down to accelerate and pushing it forward to brake.

Another option includes electrical hand controls. An accelerator ring, which is a halo-like device that can be placed on any steering wheel, turns with the steering wheel and the amount of pressure being placed on the ring controls the speed of the car. The brake function is controlled by a lever located on the side of the steering wheel that can be installed either on the left of the right depending on the comfort of the driver.

Which kind of controls fit your needs?
Decision-making can be overwhelming, especially when there are different hand control options to choose from. Luckily, a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist can help you determine what type of hand control is best for your mobility needs, as well as let you test each option to evaluate the efficiency. These specialists can also recommend other kinds of adaptive technology to make your time behind the wheel safer and more comfortable.

How do I install mobility equipment?
Installation of hand controls or any other type of adaptive mobility equipment should always be done by a qualified adaptive mobility specialist. Once you’ve determined what type of equipment is right for you, you should contact your local mobility dealer to determine how you can go about implementing these technologies within your current vehicle.

Tips to Help Overcome the Fear of Driving

Practice practice practice:

  • To boost your confidence, drive to the end of the block and back or around an empty parking lot, then gradually go for longer drives.
  • Ask someone to accompany you if that helps you relax.


  • Don’t start driving if you’re not calm and collected. Sit in the car and take deep breaths until you attain peace of mind and only then start the car and drive away.
  • Yoga classes may help you become a more focused, calm and less distracted driver.
  • If you get lost or experience panic, pull over until you calm down. Take as much time as you need. If you have a cell phone, call for directions.

Never get lost!

  • A Global Positioning System (GPS) may lessen the fear of getting lost.
  • No GPS? Print out the map directions from the Internet for those places you go frequently and keep them in the glove box.


Simple solutions to physical problems may help the mental and emotional pangs. For example, a spinner knob on the steering wheel allows accurate one-handed steering; hand controls replace feet for acceleration or braking—whatever the problem, there are solutions.

Occupational Therapists and Driver Rehabilitation Specialists can help. You can get a behind-the-wheel evaluation and recommendations for adaptive driving aids to help overcome many physical drawbacks. Whether the problem is muscle weakness, spasms or something else, therapists can address them.

How to Choose the Right Mobility Vehicle for You

With several mobility vehicle options available, how do you know which one is going to be the best fit for you?

Most vehicles can be modified with hand controls, foot pedals and adaptive equipment to make driving easier for someone who has limited mobility. While those modifications help you drive, they don’t actually help you get into the vehicle. Picking the right mobility vehicle should start with entry.

When you use a wheelchair to get around, it’s important you have a vehicle that allows you to get in and out in the most convenient way possible. If you have good upper-body strength and can’t stand the thought of driving a van, you may be able to get by using a sedan or coupe – at least for a little while. If you use a large power chair that won’t fit in the back seat of a car or have no one to help you get it there even if it could, a full-size or minivan might be more appropriate.

To find out the differences between mobility vehicles so you can pick the right one for you, consider the benefits and disadvantages of each type below.

Sedans and Coupes
Having a sedan or coupe usually means you have to transfer from your wheelchair to the car seat, which can put a lot of strain on your arms and shoulders – or those of your caregiver. When you think about a long-term solution, having to transfer and load a wheelchair for many years may not be practical. Not only that, but if the weather isn’t ideal (snow, rain, excessive heat), this all becomes even more difficult. Standard cars can have motorized lifts or platforms attached to them, but those are generally just for loading a wheelchair in the back or trunk and don’t help with your transfer.

While cars might not be the most practical solution for all wheelchair users, many people still choose them because they are more stylish than a van and tend to be less expensive. The cost of the vehicle with gas is generally less on an unconverted sedan or coupe than a converted van. Plus, if you already own a car, getting assistive equipment is cheaper than buying a brand new mobility vehicle.

SUVs are similar to sedans and coupes in that they usually require a transfer from the wheelchair to the car seat. That means they don’t work for wheelchair users without much upper-body strength or strong caregivers, especially since SUVs sit higher and the transfer involves more lifting. SUVs also don’t have a lot of interior space and may not fit larger wheelchairs – even in the trunk.

One of the major benefits of having an accessible SUV is the All-Wheel Drive feature, which makes driving in inclement weather a little bit safer, especially when hand controls are used.

Wheelchair-accessible minivans are one of the most practical options for someone with limited mobility. Converted minivans usually come with a ramp system and automatic sliding door to make entry and exit into the vehicle easy – without having to leave your wheelchair. This makes getting in and out much quicker and puts almost no stress on the body of the wheelchair user or caregiver. In addition, some wheelchair-accessible minivans offer different seating options so you can sit in the front and avoid feeling like cargo.

Converted minivans are one of the most convenient options, as they are large enough to fit a wheelchair user, but not so large they may be hard to drive and park for if you have limited mobility. While these might be the perfect solution for many wheelchair users, some people don’t like the idea of driving a minivan and you always have to park with enough space on the side to lower the ramp.

Full-Size Vans
Full-size mobility vans are a great option for larger wheelchair users or those in heavy power chairs. While these vehicles offer the most space, having a full-size van also usually means you use a lift, which takes up space inside the vehicle and may rattle around when you drive. Lift operation may also take longer than that of a ramp and often requires the assistance of another person. Having a lift, however, does make loading and unloading possible without having to transfer from the wheelchair.

While each type of mobility vehicle has its perks and drawbacks, it’s important to find the one that works best for you. It is critical to find a reliable wheelchair-accessible vehicle or adaptive equipment manufacturer so you get a product that will last. If you need additional assistance in determining which option is ideal for you, talk to an authorized mobility dealer and ask for a demo of the vehicles that interest you.