Mobility and More

Reprinted from PN November 2000


I have a lot of nerve damage to my left arm and have had trouble finding hand controls for the right hand. Do you know where I can find these?—Leonard A., via e-mail

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You raise an interesting point. Adapted vehicles usually have hand controls operated by the left hand. If you have difficulty with your left arm, this can be a serious problem. Fortunately, right-hand options are available from most major hand-control manufacturers and installers.

Right-hand controls are nothing new, according to Linda Galbraith of Wells Engberg. "Our original hand controls from the 1950s could be used either way, depending upon how you mounted [the device]," she says.

Wells Engberg's current product line consists of a rotary-style controller similar to a motorcycle handle and a traditional right-angle control. Both are suitable for right-hand applications. Typically, with some modification the control arm can be mounted facing the right. In other cases, the controls are special ordered for right-hand applications.

However, you must place careful attention on the specific vehicle in which the hand controls are being installed, warns Peter Ruprecht of DriveMaster.

"The same piece that fits well under the dash panel of one car can cause serious complications in another vehicle," he says. Such problems could include interference with reaching the keys to start the vehicle or difficulty operating a steering-column-mounted gear shift.

"Often the driver must apply the brakes to put the vehicle into Drive, and that can be an awkward maneuver if both functions are performed on the right," explains Ruprecht.

Your best bet is to visit an approved driver-rehabilitation specialist for evaluation. This person can assess drivers' abilities and determine what adaptive equipment will meet their needs. Contact ADED, the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, (608) 884-8833, for a specialist near you, or visit ADED?s Web site,

How common is this situation? Galbraith and Ruprecht agree the market is small. They estimate that less than 3% of their hand controls are used in right-hand applications.

If you have questions regarding mobility equipment, contact me.

Send questions to: Mobility & More, c/o David Young, 6649 Amoary Court, #3, Winter Park, FL 32792. mobility&


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