Tag Archives: steering controls

Steering Controls

Suicide (Steering) Knobs
Suicide Knobs are the attachments you put on a steering wheel so you can drive a car or truck with one hand. They are also known as Brodie Knobs, Necker Knobs, wheel spinners and Steering Knobs.

They were very popular in the days before power steering. Now that everyone has power steering they are not as popular, due in part to a large umber of states banning them. They can have wildly different designs and can be an interesting accessory. They also help make it a lot easier when you have to parallel park!

Short History of the Steering Knob

Brodie knobs were used on trucks before the advent of power steering. Their main use today is still in trucks, particularly semi trucks where they allow simultaneous steering and operation of the radio. They also see extensive use on forklift trucks used in warehouses and even riding lawnmowers, where frequent sharp turning is required while moving about.

Brodie Knobs were widely popular (especially on the west coast of the U.S.), during the 1950s. Their intention was to be used primarily as addition to a Hot Rod. The knob was used to spin the steering wheel, rapidly in one direction or the other, while accelerating, to cause the tire(s) to spin. Hence, come the terms “lay a brodie” and “Slob the knob”.

In the 1950s and 60’s a person could go into any local mechanics shop and choose from a large variety of “Brodie Knobs”, with every conceivable theme, from “Candy Apple colored”, product logos, to nude women, and everything in between, some automobile dealerships even used them for advertisements.
Steering Controls

3521B Steering Control Hook Grip

Designed for those using a prosthetic hook (typical with two fingers). One finger goes on the outside of the ring, the other finger goes on the inside, securing you to the steering wheel for smooth handling.

3519 Steering Control Single Pin Foam Grip
You’ll like the soft foam handle grip and the smooth steering motion. The secure grip gives you comfortable control and command of your vehicle. Your Mobility Products & Design dealer Automotive Innovations, MA can easily install this model and the others listed below.

3520B/3520G/3520W Steering Control Spinner Knob
The Spinner Knob presses firmly against the palm of your hand, giving you added strength and control for easy driving. Spinner Knob is available in three colors to coordinate with your vehicle – Black, Gray or Woodgrain. Readily Detachable – have more than one on hand for a quick, easy update to your interior.

3521B Steering Control Hook Grip
Designed for those using a prosthetic hook (typical with two fingers). One finger goes on the outside of the ring, the other finger goes on the inside, securing you to the steering wheel for smooth handling.

3522 Steering Control Tri-pin Grip
Your hand and wrist are comfortably secure with this lightweight three-pin grip. The pins are fully adjustable, so you can easily find your individual comfort setting. An available counter weight takes away the Tri-pin Grip’s weight, so you can mount it on the either side of your steering wheel. Easily replaceable foam cover for comfort.

3523B Steering Control Palm Grip
Only Mobility Products & Designs offers you this lightweight aluminum wrap. You can adjust it to comfortably fit your hand, and its firm strength holds that shape for secure steering control. The soft, sheepskin liner protects your hand, and keeps you warm in the winter. An unique finger rest protects your fingers, plus the raised device keeps them from having little contact with the steering wheel. Ideal for arthritis suffers.

3524 Steering Control V-Grip
With a foam-grip single pin and foam-covered aluminum wrap providing backhand support, your hand stays securely and comfortably in place. You can easily adjust the single pin to find the steering grip that’s just right for you. Easily replaceable foam cover for comfort.

3525 Counter Balance
A Counter Balance may be used in conjunction with the Tri-Pin Grip. The Counter Balance minimizes the fatigue to the driver offsetting the weight of the Tri-Pin grip whether on an extended or short trip. This is especially important on vehicles equipped with modified steering systems. The Counter Balance is readily removable for ambulatory drivers without tools. Standard weight is 24 oz and now available in 4 oz and 8oz weights.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Advanced Driving Controls

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

advanced driving system

Advanced Driving Controls

Advanced driving controls, or “high-tech driving systems” have advanced tremendously over the years, thus creating options for drivers with higher levels of disability. Advanced driving controls are truly a custom solution. As a result, the key components of these systems are combined, fitted and installed based on an extremely thorough process of evaluation, prescription and fine-tuning.

Hand Controls
Hand Controls in the advanced driving aid category are of course more advanced and are typically for individuals with very limited mobility and strength for operating a vehicle. A slight touch of various adaptive devices allow the car to accelerate and brake with ease.

  • Electric Gas and Brakes are operated from an electric servo in the form of a joystick or lever input device. Individuals can then use their hands to control their speed and to brake.
  • Pneumatic Gas and Brakes are operated from an air pressure system and controlled by an easy joystick, foot pedal or other device.

Steering Controls

  • Horizontal Steering accommodates a limited range of motion when the driver cannot use a conventional steering wheel.
  • Reduced and Zero Effort steering is for users who do not have adequate strength to operate the vehicle with factory resistance levels.
  • Electric steering allows the steering control to be located almost anywhere to assist the operator. They can be operated in the forms of miniature steering wheels or joysticks.

Electronic Gear Selection
Electronic Gear Selection allows the operator to push a button for a gear selection.

Remote Accessory Controls

  • Voice Scan uses one to two targets or buttons to operate a multitude of functions within the vehicle while utilizing a verbal audible menu.
  • Single Touch allows vehicle functions to be moved to a different location in order to fit the needs of the disabled driver.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Basic Driving Aids

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

Basic Driving Aids

2013 Toyota Tacoma Hand Controls installed at VMi New England Mobility Center Automotive Innovations, Inc.
Basic driving aids are adaptations which are engineered to allow you to utilize the more “able” aspects of your body in order to operate your vehicle. Hand controls, left foot gas pedals and pedal extensions are among the many options that fall into this category.

Hand Controls
Hand Controls allow you to use the upper part of your body to do what might be difficult for the lower parts – such as braking and accelerating. A variety of hand control options are available to fit your needs and preferences.

  • A Push/Pull is the basic of hand controls allowing you to push forward to brake and pull back to accelerate.
  • A Push Right Angle is a hand control where you push forward to brake and pull down towards your lap to accelerate.
  • A Push/Twist is a hand control where you push forward to brake and twist similar to a motorcycle grip to accelerate.

Steering Controls
Steering Controls are adaptations added to the steering wheel of a vehicle. Steering controls make steering for those with limited grip or strength an easier task.

  • A Spinner Knob is a small knob that presses firmly in the palm of your hand. A spinner knob gives the operator a steady grip and the ability to steer with one hand.
  • A Palm Grip is made only by MPD and allows your hand to comfortably sit in a lightweight aluminum wrap with sheepskin liner. The Palm Grip allows firm steering control for those who have little or no gripping ability. The Palm Grip is ideal for those with arthritis.
  • A Tri-Pin is a steering grip that comfortably rests your hand in-between three pins. The pins are adjustable and can be used to accelerate, brake or be used on the steering wheel instead of a spinner knob. If need be, they can also be custom fitted to operate the turn signal, horn and dimmer.

Extension Controls
Extension Controls are driving aids that give users the extra inch they need to be comfortable in their accessible vehicle. Whether they are shorter than average or have limited strength in their arms these adaptations can make all the difference in driving.

  • Pedal Extensions are for vehicle operators who can not reach the gas or brake pedal. Pedal extensions give the driver the inches they need to sit and drive comfortably at a safe distance from the airbags.
  • Turn Signal Extensions consist of a simple rod to the right side of the steering wheel that can be adjusted appropriately to meet the needs of the driver.
  • Key Extensions are available for those who have trouble with the turning motion of starting their vehicle. The additional leverage is adjustable to fit the needs of the operator.
  • Steering Column Extensions allow up to six inches between the operator and the steering column.

Foot Controls
Foot Controls are for individuals who have zero to limited feeling in their feet. Foot controls are also valuable to those who may have a prosthetic limb and need to use their left foot to drive.

  • Left Foot Gas Pedals allow drivers to accelerate using their left foot. A pedal is attached to the accelerator that is located on the left side of the brake. A guard is then placed over the original accelerator so that the right foot does not inadvertently rest on the factory installed pedal.
  • An Accelerator & Brake Guard is a shield that goes over the accelerator, brake or both when the operator is using hand controls to operate the vehicle. An accelerator and brake guard is a safety feature that prevents operators from accidentally resting their foot on the brake or accelerator.

MV1 VPG Mobility Vehicle Issues. What happened and what now?

MV1 VPG Mobility Vehicle

How can we help service your VPG mobility vehicle or help you purchase another more new or pre-owned reliable mobility vehicle?

A Michigan maker of vans for the disabled that received a $50 million Energy Department loan has quietly ceased operation and laid off its staff.

Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, stopped operations after finances dipped below the minimum required as a condition of the government loan, says former CEO John Walsh. Though about 100 staff were laid off and its offices shuttered, the company has not filed for bankruptcy reorganization.


VPG, of Allen Park, Mich., received its Energy Department loan under the same clean-energy program — now under fire by House Republicans — that originally committed $527 million to troubled plug-in hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive and $535 million to solar start-up Solyndra, which has filed for bankruptcy reorganization. VPG was deemed eligible for the clean energy loan because some of its vans were to be fitted to run on compressed natural gas.

Walsh, who left VPG with the rest of the staff when it closed in February, says the company had raised $400 million in private capital from investors, including financier T. Boone Pickens, and built 2,500 MV-1 vans. Though VPG still had a healthy order backlog, it ran low on cash and didn’t have the dealer network that it needed, Walsh says.

In 2011, the company’s then CEO, Dave Schembri, said he hoped that it could eventually ramp up production to about 30,000 vans a year, not only for individual sales to the disabled, but for sales to taxi and limousine fleets needing handicap-accessible vehicles. The company showed a taxi version at the 2012 New York Auto Show.


VPG stopped operations after its assets were frozen by the Energy Department, he says. “They wanted us to get the remaining capital raised, and we couldn’t get it done,” he says. The company did not announce the suspension of operations. An Energy Department spokesman could not be reached for comment, although the agency has stepped in before when borrowers fell short of loan conditions: Fisker was cut off after drawing $190 million of its loan package.

VPG Chairman Fred Drasner could not be reached for comment.

VPG’s DOE loan was controversial. In 2011, The Washington Post raised questions about a fundraiser for President Obama and the loan. It reported that VPG was part of the portfolio of companies under Washington, D.C.-based investment firm Perseus, whose vice chairman, James Johnson, was an Obama adviser and fundraiser. Perseus said at the time that Johnson played no role in procuring the loan for VPG. The Energy Department said at the time that the loan was based entirely on merit after two years of review.


VPG’s MV-1 purpose-built vans, which went on sale in 2011 at a starting price of $39,950, were built under contract by AM General, maker of the Army’s Humvee transports. AM General spokesman Jeff Adams declined comment on VPG’s shutdown, saying his company was only the contract builder. But he said it will supply already-sold MV-1s with parts and technical support.

Walsh says production of MV-1s was stopped about six months ago to prepare for a new model. He says VPG had about 2,300 vehicles on order at the time including a half-filled, 250-van order from New York’s City’s transit authority.

The federal loan money was spent wisely, Walsh says, and he expresses hope that it all will be repaid if the company is sold.

Walsh was CEO for about a year. “I hung in there as long as I could,” says Walsh, who is now an executive at another disabled mobility company. “I saw the handwriting on the wall months ago. We just couldn’t get the capital to keep it going.”


May Is ALS Awareness Month : Speak Up Now To Give Hope

May is ALS Awareness month : speak up Now to Give Hope

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is 100% fatal and has few treatments to improve the quality of life. We are committed to helping more people understand the impact that this devastating disease has on individuals and families nationwide. During ALS Awareness Month, we ask that you join us: speak up now to give hope.

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May us ALS Awareness month: Speak up Now to Give Hope

What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look “thinner” as muscle tissue atrophies.

Forms of ALS
Three classifications of ALS have been described:

  • Sporadic: The most common form of ALS in the United States – 90 to 95% of all cases.
  • Familial: Occurring more than once in a family lineage (genetic dominant inheritance) accounts for a very small number of cases in the United States – 5 to 10% of all cases.
  • Guamanian: An extremely high incidence of ALS was observed in Guam and the Trust Territories of the Pacific in the 1950’s.

The most common form of ALS in the United States is “sporadic” ALS. It may affect anyone, anywhere. “Familial” ALS (FALS) means the disease is inherited. Only about 5 to 10% of all ALS patients appear to have genetic or inherited form of ALS. In those families, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease.

Who Gets ALS?
ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. Based on U.S. population studies, a little over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. (That’s 15 new cases a day.) It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. According to the ALS CARE Database, 60% of the people with ALS in the Database are men and 93% of patients in the Database are Caucasian.

Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in persons in their twenties and thirties. Generally though, ALS occurs in greater percentages as men and women grow older. ALS is 20% more common in men than in women. However with increasing age, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women.

There are several research studies – past and present – investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS.  More work is needed to conclusively determine what genetics and/or environment factors contribute to developing ALS. It is known, however, that military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.
Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years.

There is some evidence that people with ALS are living longer, at least partially due to clinical management interventions, riluzole and possibly other compounds and drugs under investigation.

Diagnosing ALS
ALS is a very difficult disease to diagnose. To date, there is no one test or procedure to ultimately establish the diagnosis of ALS. It is through a clinical examination and series of diagnostic tests, often ruling out other diseases that mimic ALS, that a diagnosis can be established. A comprehensive diagnostic workup includes most, if not all, of the following procedures:

  • electrodiagnostic tests including electomyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
  • blood and urine studies including high resolution serum protein electrophoresis, thyroid and parathyroid hormone levels and 24-hour urine collection for heavy metals
  • spinal tap
  • x-rays, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • myelogram of cervical spine
  • muscle and/or nerve biopsy
  • thorough neurological examination

For more information on the importance of a second opinion, click here.

These tests are done at the discretion of the physician, usually based on the results of other diagnostic tests and the physical examination. There are several diseases that have some of the same symptoms as ALS and most of these conditions are treatable. It is for this reason that The ALS Association recommends that a person diagnosed with ALS seek a second opinion from an ALS “expert” – someone who diagnoses and treats many ALS patients and has training in this medial specialty. The ALS Association maintains a list of recognized experts in the field of ALS. See ALS Association Certified Centers of ExcellenceSM, ALS Clinics and contact your local ALS Association Chapter or the National Office.

Initial Symptoms of the Disease
At the onset of ALS the symptoms may be so slight that they are frequently overlooked. With regard to the appearance of symptoms and the progression of the illness, the course of the disease may include the following:

  • muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing
  • twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet
  • impairment of the use of the arms and legs
  • “thick speech” and difficulty in projecting the voice
  • in more advanced stages, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing

The initial symptoms of ALS can be quite varied in different people. One person may experience tripping over carpet edges, another person may have trouble lifting and a third person’s early symptom may be slurred speech. The rate at which ALS progresses can be quite variable from one person to another. Although the mean survival time with ALS is three to five years, many people live five, ten or more years. In a small number of people, ALS is known to remit or halt its progression, though there is no scientific understanding as to how and why this happens. Symptoms can begin in the muscles of speech, swallowing or in the hands, arms, legs or feet. Not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same sequences or patterns of progression. But, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are universally experienced.

Muscle weakness is a hallmark initial sign in ALS, occurring in approximately 60% of patients. Early symptoms vary with each individual, but usually include tripping, dropping things, abnormal fatigue of the arms and/or legs, slurred speech, muscle cramps and twitches and/or uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying.

The hands and feet may be affected first, causing difficulty in lifting, walking or using the hands for the activities of daily living such as dressing, washing and buttoning clothes.

As the weakening and paralysis continue to spread to the muscles of the trunk of the body the disease, eventually affects speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing. When the breathing muscles become affected, ultimately, the patient will need permanent ventilatory support in order to survive.

Since ALS attacks only motor neurons, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell are not affected. For many people, muscles of the eyes and bladder are generally not affected.

Facts You Should Know

  • ALS is not contagious.
  • It is estimated that ALS is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population annually.
  • Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
  • Although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, this disease is variable and many people live with quality for five years and more.  More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.
  • About twenty percent of people with ALS live five years or more and up to ten percent will survive more than ten years and five percent will live 20 years. There are people in whom ALS has stopped progressing and a small number of people in whom the symptoms of ALS reversed.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • ALS can strike anyone.
  • The onset of ALS is insidious with muscle weakness or stiffness as early symptoms. Progression of weakness, wasting and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs and trunk as well as those that control vital functions such as speech, swallowing and later breathing generally follows.
  • There can be significant costs for medical care, equipment and home health caregiving later in the disease.  It is important to be knowledgeable about your health plan coverage and other programs for which your may be eligible, including SSA, Medicare, Medical and Veteran Affairs benefits.
  • Riluzole, the first treatment to alter the course of ALS, was approved by the FDA in late 1995. This antiglutamate drug was shown scientifically to prolong the life of persons with ALS by at least a few months. More recent studies suggest Riluzole slows the progress of ALS, allowing the patient more time in the higher functioning states when their function is less affected by ALS. Click here for more information on the drug. Many private health plans cover the cost of Riluzole. Further information on Riluzole coverage through Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit can be found in the Advocacy pages of this website.

Reports from three separate patient databases described long range experience with Riluzole. All three reports suggest a trend of increasing survival with Riluzole over time. More studies that are double blind and controlled are needed to confirm these database observations. The trend appears to indicate that longer periods of time than those used in the Riluzole clinical trials may be needed to see the long-term survival advantage of the drug. An interesting observation was that despite the fact that the Irish government provides Riluzole free of charge to people in Ireland with ALS, only two-thirds of the patients registered in the Ireland national ALS database reported taking Riluzole.