Adapting Behind the Wheel: Quadriplegic Van Transfers

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Curated by
Kieran Kern
Content via Live To Roll
Live To Roll
Curated by
Kieran Kern

Freedom means something different to everyone. One of the major milestones is getting a driver’s license. Having a SCI doesn’t mean your road warrior days are over; it just means they’re adapted.

C-5/6 quadriplegic Shawn Fluke shows how he transfers from his wheels into the driver’s seat. In the follow up video he demonstrates how to transfer from the driver’s side to the passenger side during a long car trip.

From Wheels to Behind the Wheel

  • With the help of his motion assist wheels, Shawn backs up into his side entry van. Going backwards means his bigger back wheels get him over the lip of his in-floor ramp. He swivels the driver’s seat around and gets the seat and his wheelchair as close together as possible.
  • Shawn moves his feet off of his foot plates, and leans forward bracing his elbow against the driver’s seat. With one hand on the wheel of his wheelchair and his elbow, Shawn pushes himself off of the wheelchair seat and into the driver’s seat
  • He does a combination of turning the seat and sliding it back and forth to accommodate getting his knees past the passenger’s seat. Shawn then uses his hand to lift his legs individually to further position them towards the front of the car. He continues to slowly turn the chair bracing his trunk to ensure that he doesn’t fall forward.
  • To transfer from the driver’s seat, he lifts his legs individually recreating the forward, back and turning motion of the seat.
  • When turned around, Shawn places his lead foot on the footplate of his wheelchair, places his elbow on the wheelchair tucking his arm under his legs and pushing off of the driver’s seat with his opposite arm. He lifts and pivots himself into his chair.   

Relinquishing the Helm

“After three hours of driving, my shoulder, back and butt. . .everything is pretty done and ready for a break.”

  • Shawn angles the driver’s seat as close to the passenger as possible and puts his lead foot on the raised platform in front of the passenger seat.
  • He does a standard transfer where he locks his elbows out and lifts his shoulders to “pop my butt out as best I can.”
  • When securely in the seat, he turns the driver’s seat forward and uses his position to do pressure release. From locking his elbows and pushing his shoulders down to leaning forward and putting his head between his knees. Shawn also does mini elbow transfers where he leans on one elbow and pushes up from the back
  • When transferring from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat to his wheelchair, Shawn cautions intrepid drivers to be cognizant of ankle placement to avoid sprains.

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