Ways to Approach Driving with Peripheral Neuropathy

Ways to Approach Driving with Peripheral Neuropathy
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The numbness and tingling sensations associated with peripheral neuropathy may significantly impact a patient’s everyday life. Tasks such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and driving may require extra care and attention to detail.

Mobility may become increasingly difficult for people living with peripheral neuropathy and carpal tunnel symptoms associated with familial amyloid polyneuropathy, especially when it comes to driving a vehicle. Patients and caregivers need to understand their options for operating vehicles. Following are some ways to address driving with neuropathy.

How neuropathy may affect driving

The burning and tingling sensations associated with peripheral symptoms may inhibit a patient’s ability to operate a vehicle. A loss of feeling due to numbness may affect a patient’s ability to use the gas pedal and brakes. Treatments such as gabapentin may cause side effects such as drowsiness and disorientation.

Transporting wheelchairs by car may prove difficult. My father-in-law assumed driving duties when my mother-in-law’s neuropathy aggravated the pain in her arms and legs. Anyone traveling by car with my mother-in-law needed to factor in extra time to make sure she could comfortably enter the car. Then they needed to attach her motorized wheelchair to the elevated hoist on the back of the car and ensure its steadiness.

My in-laws eventually invested in a Ford Econoline van with a built-in wheelchair elevator. Traveling became much more convenient for my in-laws. With the rows of seats removed, my mother-in-law could sit in her wheelchair while riding in the van. 

Other ways to manage driving

A common way to make driving easier is to install hand controls that attach to the vehicle’s gas pedal, brakes, and steering wheel, allowing drivers to use their hands to accelerate and brake while steering. Hand controls come in manual and motorized versions that may benefit various levels of peripheral neuropathy severity.

Gloves may help patients who experience numbness and tingling sensations in their hands, but they also may affect their ability to maneuver the vehicle.

The cost of a new vehicle modified with adaptative equipment can be prohibitive, ranging from $20,000 to $80,000. Patients and caregivers may want to explore travel alternatives.

Alternative ways to travel

It may be convenient to have a caregiver or loved one assume driving duties. Patients also may consider using ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft. These options may require a set budget and significant planning but may alleviate the potentially higher costs associated with equipping a vehicle for passengers with disabilities.

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

Ezekiel is caregiver to his mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic and organizational communications from Temple University and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When not writing, he’s skateboarding or hanging out with his wife, Maryann.
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Ezekiel is caregiver to his mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic and organizational communications from Temple University and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When not writing, he’s skateboarding or hanging out with his wife, Maryann.
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