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Enabling Gerry’s independence through driving

16 January 2019

female in sunglasses cap in driver's seat of car with door open and male in the passenger seat looking at camera
Gerry works for the Health Department and being able to drive to and from work, as well as to other events and activities, plays a big part in her independence.
Gerry, who has a spinal cord injury, has been driving with hand controls for many years. After buying a new car, a 2017 Toyota Aurion, it was clear that she required new hand controls as the old ones she was using were breaking down.
Through the Independent Living Centre WA (ILC) Gerry was able to review the different forms of hand controls she could fit in the new vehicle and receive advice on the most suitable option.
“Gerry was introduced to a combination of manual and electronic trigger-like hand controls that may be better suited to her function due to trouble with her shoulders,” said ILC Driver Trained Occupational Therapist Andrew Browton.
“Gerry trialled this equipment as part of her occupational therapy driving assessment and after further consultation with the vehicle modifiers a collective decision was made that the trigger-like hand control was best for Gerry.”
Andrew then submitted a NDIS application to have the hand controls funded, which was approved, enabling Gerry’s vehicle to be modified.
As part of the funding Gerry also received lessons (with Six Star Disabled Driver Training) to ensure she was competent using the hand controls in her new car.
“These lessons were essential for Gerry so that she could drive her new car as soon as the equipment was fitted.”
Last year Indigo's (Formerly Independent Living Centre WA) Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment Service undertook 1,015 driving assessments for fitness to drive and/or modified driving controls.