Driving with a Prosthetic Leg

Many people wonder if it’s possible, driving with a prosthetic leg after undergoing an amputation. Limb loss (amputation) affects the ability to control a vehicle. Depending on upper or lower limb amputation, it can affect usage of the steering wheel, controls or pedals, or even your stability in the vehicle. You must be assessed for the level of impact, which will determine the conditions on your license, any vehicle modifications, or additional training with a rehabilitation driving instructor to enable you to drive. Below is some general information to get you started on the journey to get back on the road.

Can you Drive with a Prosthetic Leg?

Steps to take:

It is a legal requirement that you notify the transport authority in your state or territory of any change in medical condition or surgery that affects your driving, including an amputation where you find yourself driving with a prosthetic leg.

The driver licensing authority in each state and territory has slight variations in its policies and standards. The standards apply to private, commercial, light, and heavy vehicles and motorbikes and you may need to complete multiple driving tests.

To be able to drive a vehicle you must complete a variation of the following steps based on your state/territory:

Make an appointment with your doctor/GP
  • They will need to provide a complete medical record.
  • Fill in any forms from your state/territory authority.
  • You may need additional medical reports from specialists.
Complete off-road assessment
  • Including asking you about your driving and medical history, testing your knowledge of the road rules, and assessing visual, sensory, and thinking abilities.
Complete occupational therapy driving assessment
  • Health professionals such as an accredited occupational therapist assess a patient’s medical fitness to drive to advise the driver licensing authorities about how the patient’s health and medical conditions might affect their driving ability.

(AFTD Guidelines have basic standards for each states process).

User Ability & Car Modifications

Depending on the user’s ability, you can drive a car with the original pedals if you have had a lower limb amputation.

  • You will need to learn how to manoeuvre your limb differently and this may also be dependent on the sensation in your limb for feedback.
  • As you can no longer move your ankle joint you will rely on feedback from your residual limb and proprioception (the feeling of where your limb is in space).

Features of your prosthesis are also important:

  • You should speak to your prosthetist about wanting to drive as they may need to consider this in the componentry used for the prescription of your prosthetic limb.
  • Adaptive equipment can also be installed in many vehicles.
  • Hand-operated brake and accelerator, automatic transmission and height-adjustable seats, etc.
  • Modifications enable many drivers with impairments to operate vehicles safely.
  • Power steering makes driving much easier for upper limb amputees.

License Conditions When Driving with a Prosthetic Leg

You may have a license condition that states you must wear your assistive device, only drive a specific vehicle or you can only drive an automatic vehicle.

Please contact your local state or territory for further information, alternatively, you can contact your state’s amputee association for guidance.

 

With the joint effort of:

Darrel Sparke, President of Amputees NSW.

APC would like to thank Darrel Sparke, for collaboration in writing this resource article.

Content created and adapted from:

 

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