Medical Driving Evaluations

Adaptive Driving Equipment | Spinner Knobs for Cars

Posted by Joan Cramer on Jun 10, 2021 12:58:12 PM
Joan Cramer
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To many people, young and old, getting behind the wheel of a car represents independence and freedom. But if you have any physical, visual, or mental difficulties, the idea of being safe, comfortable, and confident behind the car may be a bit more challenging.


This is where modern adaptive driving equipment comes in. Thanks to a number of adjustable, personally tailored devices, it’s possible to overcome almost any challenge you might have and set out capably to enjoy the freedom of the open road. 


There’s little that’s as synonymous with driving as being behind a steering wheel. So it’s fitting that one of these many devices works by making it much easier to control the steering wheel itself, no matter what your challenges. 


In this article, we’ll be exploring steering wheel spinner knobs for cars. We’ll talk about which challenges might require spinner knobs, how they work, how they can be adjusted to you, and how you can go about using them to take control of your freedom on the road.

Limited Hand Mobility, Hand Function, and Hand Strength

One of the very first steps of becoming comfortable with a car, even before you turn on the vehicle, is to make sure that you can easily manipulate the steering wheel. Whether it’s the classic “ten and two”, or a modified hand position, this connection is vital to steering. 


However, there is a number of reasons that a person might need a bit of adaptive equipment to help with this process. 


For example, after a stroke, a person with full function of only one hand would benefit from a device to help manage to turn in a safe and efficient manner.


Similarly, someone with the use of one hand (either due to development, neurologic dysfunction, or an amputation) would also need a way to safely control a wheel with the use of their functioning appendage. 


The final challenge is if someone has limited hand or grip strength, either due to age, arthritis, or another diagnosis. In this case, a steering wheel knob can offer a significant improvement to your comfort and control on the road. 

How A Steering Wheel Knob Helps

At its core, a steering wheel knob is actually a very simple device — a knob on the steering wheel to help with steering — but each individual device can be customized to help with your unique needs. 


For example, the knob itself can be customized using different types of grips to accommodate for any weakness or movement limitations you might have in your upper body. 


Some steering wheel knobs also include electronics to enable the driver to control secondary controls with it (blinkers, horn, wipers,  high beam). This helps make sure that you remain in control of the car even if you only have one hand that you’re using to drive. 


The location of the knob is very specific and can be customized to match your unique abilities. For example, even someone who has the use of both hands, but who needs hand controls, may need a steering wheel knob to manage to steer, since the second hand is on the hand control.


Ultimately, the goal here is to allow for easy access and control of all of the car’s secondary features, as well as access to the steering wheel. 

Customizing to Your Unique Situation

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As we mentioned above, there are a number of different ways to customize a steering wheel spinner knob to your unique situation. 


For example, adjusting the knob location can influence the amount of control and ease of use of the steering wheel knob. We recommend working with a driver rehabilitation expert to decide exactly how to install this feature (mentioned in further depth below). 


Finally, it’s also important to point out that spinner knobs, especially more complex systems, do require active, sharp cognition and practice to remain safe on the road. If you struggle with managing multiple systems in the car, your driver rehab expert may have an alternative solution.

How Do You Get A Spinner Knob?

All adaptive driving devices are prescribed by Certified Driver Rehabilitation specialists, who can create a prescription for your specific device. Then, a vendor can follow this prescription to install the correct device.


This process usually starts with an assessment of what unique challenges face you on the road. Then, after determining which equipment is needed to help you safely drive, you’ll start the process of getting certified to drive on the open road. 


Just like getting trained to drive in a factory-standard car, your specialist can work with you to learn all of the rules and skills of the road. Once you’ve safely displayed these skills, you’re ready to have your new equipment installed!


Since steering wheel spinner knobs are one of the simpler devices to use, the certification and training process is usually rather straightforward. However, this can change if you require a spinner knob in tandem with other vehicle modifications.


Taking the Next Step | The Next Street Approach

Here at The Next Street Driver Rehab, we start off with a comprehensive clinical assessment to understand you and your exact physical, cognitive, and visual challenges.


We can do this either at your home or at one of our offices, and from there, we can make a recommendation as to what equipment you might need. Then the next step is to help you start training! 


If you’re starting to train with steering wheel spinner knobs, we have a number of options in our fleet of training vehicles. Though every spinner knob is different, this is often a good way to get started, and we’ll begin training with you in a familiar location.


Once you’re comfortable with your ability behind the wheel and understand which devices you’ll be using for your own vehicle, our instructors can help you make the transition to getting safely certified on the road. 


This can include guiding you through DMV criteria for adaptive equipment use, writing prescriptions for vehicle modifications, and assisting you in preparation for any tests you may have to pass. 


Our goal is to help you every step along the way. No matter what your unique challenges, we’re dedicated to helping you safely and confidently gain the freedom of the open road, whether that’s behind the wheel or through alternative transportation. 


If you’d like to learn more or schedule an initial free consultation, you can reach out to us at our Consultation Homepage or at 860-483-7009.


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Driving is Important

We Are Here to Keep You Safe Behind the Wheel

Our Driver Rehabilitation program works with patients whose change in health may affect their ability to safely drive. We have a team of Certified Driving Rehab Specialists that will work with patients on evaluating your driving abilities. We also have a team of professional instructors to help you gain or regain the skills you need to drive. We created this blog to talk about the various diagnoses we experience and how they may affect your experience behind the wheel. 

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