Hand controls are devices to operate the accelerator and/or brake on a vehicle manually, using the driver’s hand rather than the driver’s foot. There are four types of hand controls recommended for use in vehicles with power brakes and steering as they do not interfere with operation of the vehicle by able-bodied drivers. They are:
- Push/Pull Hand Control: A device to operate the accelerator and brake pedals by hand. Push/Pull operation is push forward (toward the brake pedal) to brake and pull toward the rear to accelerate.
- Push/Twist Hand Control: A device to operate the accelerator and brake pedals by hand. The Push/ Twist operation is push of the control handle forward (toward brake pedal) to brake and twist the handle (much like a motorcycle) to accelerate.
- Push/Rock Hand Control: A device to operate the accelerator and brake pedals by hand. The Push/Rock operation requires a push of the control handle forward (toward brake pedal) to brake and for acceleration, the rocking of an upright handle rearward toward the user.
- Push/Right Angle Hand Control: A device to operate the accelerator and brake pedals by hand. The Push/Right Angle operation is push forward (toward brake pedal) to brake and move down toward the lap to accelerate. (also referred to as “universal” as it can be used for most disabilities)
At R&J Mobility Service, we offer hand controls by:
MPS Hand Controls: Regaining Driving Independence
One of the key ingredients in establishing and maintaining your independence is being able to get around on your own. Having something like a progressive muscular disease or losing mobility in your legs does not mean you can no longer drive. Stay mobile and connected with loved ones by equipping your vehicle with the right driving aids such as Manufacturing Production & Services hand controls.
What Are MPS Hand Controls
Hand control is mobility equipment which allows driving a vehicle without pushing the accelerator or brake pedals with your feet. Manufacturing Production & Services (MPS) hand controls are quality mobility aids giving drivers alternatives to standard driving mechanisms. By moving everything up to the hands, more people are able to drive safely and gain more control over their daily life.
Automotive hand controls have been around for over half a century but have seen significant improvements in design, durability, and reliability. Not only have these gas and brake controls empowered thousands of physically challenged drivers, but they have also allowed more extreme sports lovers like Michael Johnson participate in car racing championships. As technology improves, new innovations give those with physical limitations the ability to live more dynamic and full lives.
How Do Hand Controls Work
A mechanical linkage connects gas and brake pedals on the floor to a hand grip mounted on either side of the steering wheel. The handle is typically used by the left hand to fully control gas/brake operations while the right hand is used to switch gears or pull the parking brake.
The four main types of hand controls used in lieu of the accelerator and brake pedals are:
- Push – Pull: pulls toward the driver’s chest
- Push Right Angle: pulls downward toward one’s right thigh
- Push – Rock: rocks downward toward oneself
- Push – Twist: twists the handle grip (similar to a motorbike gas control)
In addition to these primary control methods, there are also hand controls that replace the use of a brake or accelerator pedals exclusively. These allow the driver to use hand controls for one pedal while continually pushing the other pedal with their foot. The same type of products manufactured by different companies may vary in their design complexity and cost.
Manufacturing & Production Services (MPS)
MPS is one of the oldest and renowned mechanical hand control manufacturers. The company is famous for the Monarch Right Angle that revolutionized hand controls for many.
George Hendrickson brought MPS to its current success. A disabled Korean war hero is a nationally recognized champion for improving mobility independence for the disabled community. Hendrickson wasn’t satisfied with the quality of mobility equipment available and took it upon himself to change that. Ever since Henrickson’s acquisition in 1970, MPS has been consistently delivering quality hand controls proudly manufactured in the country.
Styles of MPS Hand Controls
There are four styles of MPS hand controls designed to accommodate various driving requirements and personal preferences. A 5-year limited warranty covers all of these devices. This warranty means you can rest assured that you are investing in quality hand controls leading the industry in design, craftsmanship, and function.
Push – Pull
Push-pull is the most basic model within MPS hand controls and requires the most arm strength to operate. Although it is simplistic in design, the model compensates by being the most economical in comparison to the manufacturer’s more advanced products.
As the name suggests, the accelerator or brake pedals is operated by simple push-pull movements. Pulling and holding toward the lap increases car speed while pushing the grip engages the brake pedal. Depending on the driver’s personal preferences, the grip is sometimes mounted in a horizontal or vertical position.
Monarch Right Angle
Monarch Right Angle is a push right angle type of hand controls. This model is renowned within the industry thanks to its superior design and reliability proven through testing and use over many years. These quality hand controls remain a nationwide bestseller decades after its introduction to the market.
One of the reasons for this model’s popularity is its unbeatable smoothness in operation. To use the accelerator pedal, the driver needs to pull the grip down toward the right thigh and the torso. A forward pushing movement will apply the brakes in the same fashion as other hand control styles. The hand control acceleration feature can be switched on or off depending on who is operating the vehicle making this model an attractive option for car-sharing arrangements.
Additionally, the mechanical linkage between the grip and the accelerator pedal is neatly concealed behind the dash board making this unobtrusive design an elegant solution.
Push – Rock
This style is the latest in hand control innovations and has quickly become one of the more popular ones among driving evaluators. The vertical handle is designed for a comfortable grip making it easy to control the vehicle. The movements are as easy to perform as working a Lake Tahoe slot machine. To accelerate the vehicle, the driver gently rocks the handle back towards himself in a downward movement. Pushing the handle back in the direction of the dash board applies the breaks.
Thanks to this device’s ergonomic design, the vehicle operator can avoid fatigue by keeping their hands in a relaxed position while driving. This style is expected to continue its rapid growth and popularity among drivers and mobility vehicle safety experts.
Breaking tends to take more force than acceleration in a car. MPS Brake Only is a driving aid solution for a driver who is still able to use their foot to push a gas pedal but requires a hand grip to control the brake pedal. Just like in other MPS hand controls, the pedals connect to the handle with a mechanical linkage.
Choosing the Proper Hand Controls for Your Needs
The process of getting your vehicle equipped with hand controls for the first time has four main non-sequential steps: evaluation, training, dealer selection, and installation. Your physician will assess your readiness before you launch in the process. If given the approval, your doctor will give you a prescription which is necessary to claim reimbursement for the evaluation if it is covered by insurance. You’ll also use the prescription to obtain any DMV license approvals with restrictions.
Evaluation by CDRS
If you have never driven a vehicle with mobility aids, your first step is getting evaluated by a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). The evaluation typically consists of two parts: a clinical review and a behind-the-wheel assessment. Both parts take a couple of hours in total though you can ask for more time to become more comfortable with the devices.
The goal of this assessment is to determine the best setup matching your driving style, medical condition, and your vehicle’s parameters. You will try out various mobility aids such as brake extension, left foot gas pedal or the aforementioned hand controls. The CDRS will also advise you on other mobility needs such as scooter lifts or the type of transfer seat required to enter and exit the vehicle safely.
At the end of the evaluation, a comprehensive report with specific recommendations on driving, training, and equipment requirements is provided. Reputable mobility aid dealers require this document before they make any modifications to your vehicle to ensure you will be safe when using all modifications to the vehicle.
Training to Drive with New Hand Controls
Both experienced and new drivers need training with a CDRS to operate new devices and mobility aids properly. On-the-road training hours may vary significantly based on the driver’s experience and vehicle modification complexity. It takes an average of 10 to 12 hours of practice with new mechanical hand controls before being comfortable, thus safe in operating them.
Once the driving specialist releases you from training, he provides an updated order for new hand controls. Keep in mind that the on-the-road evaluation and training can only happen if you already have a valid learner’s permit or a driver’s license. If you work, state vocational rehabilitation services or workers’ compensation insurance (if this is a covered claim) may cover your training costs.
Selecting the Right Mobility Equipment Dealer
Don’t trust the safety of you or your loved ones with second-rate devices. Get a consultation from a mobility equipment dealer in your area.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a national nonprofit resource that lists reputable and authorized mobility dealers. All companies in the network must meet safety standards as part of the association’s Quality Assurance Program. This is the only nationally recognized accreditation program in the adaptive mobility equipment industry.
R&J Mobility is not only a proud accredited member of the NMEDA but is also registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who ensures national safety regulation compliance. To make sure a dealer is certified by the NHTSA simply run their name in the NHTSA online database.
Hand Controls Installation
Installations are always customized to the customer’s individual needs or limitations which is why you need to be available for fittings while your mobility aids are get mounted. Proper adjustments are essential to ensure the equipment fits perfectly, thus guaranteeing your safety on the road.
Simpler portable hand controls may appear to be easy to install by yourself. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that you get the job done by a professional. Not only is it a safer option, but it may also be the only legal one depending on the state you live in. Having hand controls installed by a professional will ensure the rods connecting brake and accelerator pedals with the grip don’t adversely affect leg room.
Costs of Hand Controls and Their Installation
The price for simple mechanical hand controls such as those manufactured by MPS varies between $500 and $2,000. You may want to throw in built-in cruise control to further minimize your driving fatigue. Driving evaluators also recommend getting an accelerator brake/guard which protects the driver from inadvertently using the pedals, while keeping them intact for other drivers to use.
With so many variables to consider, the final equipment and installation cost will depend on the dealer, your specific vehicle, and the modification prescription. Some federal and private insurance plans cover the costs of your mobility aids or CDRS evaluations. Make sure you check the requirements for claiming the benefits before you start the process.
Should you require financial assistance with your vehicle modification, you can seek help in funding from organizations such as the National Organization for Vehicle Accessibility (NOVA). The organization runs a grant program which in some cases can cover up to 25% of the total equipment costs. Application cycles open every couple of months with the results announced within a couple of weeks.
Mobility Freedom Regained
Equipping your car with mobility aids and learning how to drive it is a serious undertaking which requires a commitment in terms of time and money. If you live anywhere along the West Coast, including Oregon, Washington, and California get in touch with R&J Mobility where our trained and certified mobility experts on staff are happy to assist you in regaining your mobility freedom.
PLEASE NOTE: Prior to installing any adaptive driving equipment, R&J Mobility requires documentation that the equipment is appropriate for the client. The documentation shall reflect the client’s current functional and medical status. The documentation shall include one of the following:
- assessment report from a qualified driver rehabilitation specialist that includes specifications for equipment, modifications, and training;
- properly restricted current driver license;
- experience in operating the equipment to be installed
There are several Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists available in Oregon:
Mr Jim M. Ilg, CDRS, J K Adaptations
910 Player Drive North
Keizer, Oregon 97303
Ms Jamie Stevenson, OTR/L, Salem Hospital
2561 Center St NE
PO Box 14001
Salem, Oregon 97309
Ms. Laura Fischrup, OTR/L, CDRS, Driving Solutions
492 E. 13 Ave. Suite 101
Eugene, Oregon 97401
Trudi A. Cruzen, OT/L, CDRS, St. Charles Med. Ctr
2500 NE Neff Road
Bend, Oregon 97701
Michell L. Kreft, OTR, CDRS, St. Charles Med. Ctr
2500 NE Neff Road
Bend, Oregon 97701
Mr. Jeff T. Lango, OTR/L, CDRS, Alpine Rehab & Wellness
5933 NE Win Sivers Dr. #240
Portland, Oregon 97220
Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation – Corvallis
Amy Nistico, OTR/L
3580 NW Samaritan Drive
Corvallis, Oregon 97330
Providence Medford Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation
Driver Assessment Program
1111 Crater Lake Ave.
Medford, OR 97504
R & J Mobility sincerely apologizes if these requirements may cost the prospective customer additional funds, but to insure the safety of the driver and proper installation, we must follow industry standards.
The following video walks you through each step of the process of using a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist: