amputation Archives - Driving Mobility

Ella beats amputation to drive once more with Driving Mobility support

Ella Dove, 30 from East London, has achieved motoring independence once again after experiencing a leg amputation due to a freak running accident – made possible by Driving Mobility.

Ella Dove, 30 from East London, has achieved motoring independence once again after experiencing a leg amputation due to a freak running accident – made possible by Driving Mobility.

Ella qualified to drive a manual car when she was 18 and drove for a few years. However, she moved to London in 2014 and decided not to take her car as it was easier to use public transport in the capital. Ella’s car remained at her parent’s house. In 2016 Ella unfortunately experienced a freak accident whilst running which involved a trip and fall. She fractured and dislocated her knee so badly the circulation to her foot was severed which finally resulted in a right leg amputation below the knee. Ella did not drive for six years until she was guided back to adapted motoring by Driving Mobility.

As Ella lives in Stratford, she decided to contact the Driving Mobility centre nearest to her at Harlow (a satellite centre for Herts Ability in Welwyn Garden City). This centre is one of 20 Driving Mobility centres across England and Wales which are supported by 70 outreach facilities. They provide clinically led, driving and mobility assessments so individuals can gain or maintain personal independence through appropriate adapted vehicles, mobility scooters, wheelchair or accessible transport. Driving Mobility centres are operated by independent charities or NHS departments – all accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility. Service users can self-refer or are signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and the NHS.

As Ella’s physical abilities had changed, her driving licence was put on hold by the DVLA. Hence, she was advised to seek a professional driving assessment so that official recommendations could be gathered and an appropriate solution to independence could be concluded.

Ella spoke to an advisor representing Driving Mobility who initially assessed her needs and organised an appointment with their team at Welwyn Garden City. Ella attended the centre for a driving assessment in one of their automatic vehicles. Ella explains: “I was initially quite nervous, but I really enjoyed the experience and definitely felt myself progressing in confidence and ability as the session went on. The private Driving Mobility test drive course in Harlow is a fantastic idea and a great way to ease back into driving again. I had not been behind the wheel for six years so this reassured me…  especially when driving for the first time just using my left foot for acceleration and braking.”

Ella adds: “The fact that the Driving Mobility team were so supportive massively helped me. I wouldn’t describe myself as a confident driver to start with; I’ve always been quite cautious behind the wheel, so I did feel myself gripping the wheel quite tightly and moving like a snail to start with during the assessment. However, I discovered that my road sense was still there, which was comforting, and driving didn’t feel as alien as I thought it would. By the end of the assessment in the automatic car, I was really enjoying myself and left feeling very proud – it was an enormous milestone for me!”

Following her driving assessment, Driving Mobility concluded Ella was safe and competent to drive an automatic car. This was amazing news to Ella and was a significant result for her confidence and independence. She received her driving licence back from the DVLA with the all-clear to drive a non-manual car with adapted pedals. In conclusion, she offers this advice: “I’d say have courage. Confidence for me is the biggest barrier. So, it was more a psychological push to get myself back behind the wheel than a logistical one. Getting used to an automatic, especially with specialist pedals and using my left foot for everything hasn’t been easy, but the more I do it, the more confident I become. So, go for it! Don’t let fear hold you back!”



Post-op farm manager regains driving confidence thanks to Driving Mobility

Lisa Hall, 57 from Bedfordshire, has retained her priceless ability to drive following a life-changing amputation, thanks to the support of a Driving Mobility centre.

Lisa Hall, 57 from Bedfordshire, has retained her priceless ability to drive following a life-changing amputation, thanks to the support of a Driving Mobility centre.

The charity Driving Mobility accredits a network of 20 independent driving assessment centres with over 70 outreach facilities, which provide guidance to drivers with restricted mobility. Service users either self-refer or are signposted for assessment from the DVLA, Motability, the Police or NHS – so the most appropriate means of driving can be recommended.

Lisa was referred to a Driving Mobility centre early in 2020 after undergoing a fore quarter shoulder and arm amputation due to bone cancer. At this time one of Lisa’s main concerns was the possibility she would never drive again. However, her consultant at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore assured Lisa she would be able to drive again. This led to a referral to a Driving Mobility centre (Herts Ability) via Lisa’s assigned Occupational Therapist (OT). The friendly and knowledgeable team at this independent charity would provide full assessment and recommendations regarding vehicle adaptations so Lisa could potentially drive comfortably with one arm.

Being able to drive again was a major focus for Lisa after her operation as she explains: “I needed to get behind the wheel as fast as I could after being in hospital. It was my main focus and a goal to aim for. I have always been a confident driver as I live on a farm and always running short notice errands for the business. Managing our busy 700-acre arable farm with my husband means I need to be driving for lots of jobs, from banking to collecting machinery parts. Not being able to drive would be a disaster.”

Lisa continues: “When you undergo an amputation you can be in a state of shock, you can lose yourself. My op could have had a massive impact on my life and business, especially as driving was vital for both. Even during time away from the farm, I was always the regular driver for my group of friends. I’ve always loved driving. This could have all been taken away from me. Thank goodness my consultant had confidence in me that I would be able to drive again one day. He said I’d find it second nature again with new controls. He was right and the Driving Mobility centre made it happen.”

Lisa’s assessment was booked for February 2020. She spoke to the Driving Mobility team beforehand and completed an online form, so a suitable vehicle was ready for her visit. The team explained what to expect during the assessment and offered calming reassurance. Lisa felt fine on the way to the centre as she says: “Despite a lot riding on being able to drive again and some anxiety, my apprehension was manageable thanks to the support I received from the centre. My husband drove me there, so I was even more relaxed on arrival. I hadn’t driven for several months so it really helped I felt no pressure from the staff, especially as they kept asking me if I was ok.”

“Once the initial welcome and meeting was completed, I was accompanied by a driving instructor and two therapists to a car adapted with a ‘lollipop’ steering knob. The instructor drove first and then it was my turn. I was given plenty of time to get used to the car on a quiet industrial estate before starting my 45-minute driving assessment. I feel comfortable and not stressed throughout the experience.”

When the driving assessment was complete, Lisa was given an appraisal of her performance and a written report. The ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) and OT (Occupational Therapist) explained their findings and recommendations regarding suitable vehicle adaptations. They felt with appropriate equipment Lisa could continue to drive safely and independently. A steering knob or ‘lollipop’ with ancillary controls including indicators, lights, horn and wipers was deemed ideal for Lisa’s disability. The necessary paperwork was processed that day and sent to the DVLA so Lisa’s licence could be updated, and her insurance company informed.

The adaptation to Lisa’s Land Rover Discovery then needed to be arranged. The Driving Mobility team were able to suggest several local vehicle adaptation specialists, so Lisa wasted no time in contacting them seeking assistance. She selected PB Conversions based in Leighton Buzzard who completed the work within a week – with the actual installation taking a few hours. As Lisa’s new steering ‘lollipop’ operates wirelessly, it can be easily clipped on and off the steering wheel so the car can be used with either standard or adapted controls.

Lisa concludes: “I was so lucky to complete my assessment and have my car adapted just before lockdown. Now I can definitely say being able to drive has given me my life back. I felt comfortable and supported throughout the whole process by the Driving Mobility centre and the steering controls they recommended are perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was thrilled to pass my assessment! Using a car is now second nature to me again and we have flexibility with the controls so my husband can drive without the ‘lollipop’ attached, it’s so easy. Driving has always been a big part of my life and I am delighted to say this will now continue. I would encourage anyone in a similar position to do the same and give it a go, I thoroughly recommend Driving Mobility.”